A few days before Halloween, I went to Home Depot to buy a new garbage can. As I walked through the front door, I was greeted by two things: an employee who wanted me to sign up for a Home Depot Consumer Card (I already have one), and Christmas decorations.

"Wait a minute," I said to the orange-aproned employee. "It's still October, right?"

A sheepish look came over the Home Depot worker's face. "I know," she said. "We're already sick of Christmas music."

So, what's with the Christmas displays in stores before Thanksgiving? A quick glance at recent headlines sheds light on this questions. Oil is nearing $100 a barrel. Economic experts are predicting an economic slowdown (i.e. recession) and consumer prices have been creeping up for a few months now. These are all ominous signs I mentioned some time ago in my post Bad Economic Times on the Way?

Usually, when retailers trot out the Christmas displays earlier than usual, it means they are expecting a rough holiday shopping season. When times get tough, fewer people go shopping. To compensate for slower-than-usual holiday sales, retailers start the shopping season early, and offer bigger sales.

Traditionally, retailers launch the holiday shopping season on "Black Friday"...the day after Thanksgiving. This year, many retailers plan to start their Christmas sales at 12 a.m. Friday morning. Some even plan to start on Thanksgiving night. This could be good for consumers in terms of saving money on gifts this year, but it points to a bigger problem: things aren't as merry as usual this Christmas.

Personally, I prefer to skip the Black Friday sales and the crowds at the malls. I do most of my Christmas shopping online, and let retailers ship to my home. Some even offer free shipping during the holidays. I have also purchased gifts on eBay in past years. My sister, also trying to avoid the Black Friday crowds, started her Christmas shopping last weekend.

If you really want to find bargains at retail stores this holiday shopping season, patience will be your friend. As we get closer to Christmas Eve, stores may start to slash prices in an effort to do more volume during what could be a humbug of a holiday shopping season for retailers.

2 comments

  1. Linda // November 13, 2007 at 12:10 PM  

    I agree with you, for the most part. However, I know that some people can't wait until closer to Christmas to buy gifts, when they need to be sent out of state or overseas.

    Also, in some states, it is too cold to put up outside Christmas lights close to Christmas, so they do it after Halloween or (at least) by Thanksgiving. I imagine that the stores are just responding to those customers who need to have the decorations early. I agree, though, that it seems to get earlier and earlier.

  2. SavvyFrugality // November 14, 2007 at 1:00 AM  

    I understand about shipping gifts early, especially for our men and women serving overseas. But, Home Depot was playing Christmas music and had Christmas decorations on display before Halloween. That seemed a bit extreme to me. By the way, I did see a story on TV this morning that retailers are expecting lower-than-usual sales this holiday season, and there was a separate store about whether or not the U.S. is actually in a recession at the moment.

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