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Does Christmas come earlier and earlier every year?

A Gallup poll released in October said 1 in 4 people start Christmas shopping earlier, and the numbers jumped when businesses started sales earlier.
Does Christmas come earlier and earlier every year?
Posted at 3:37 PM, Nov 16, 2023

Google the phrase "Christmas creep." It's a phrase that the Merriam-Webster dictionary has labeled "Words We're Watching" because it's gotten so much traction in recent years.

Darrin Duber-Smith is a marketing professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

"So this is a thing. The Christmas holiday creep is a thing — and so much of a thing that you study it? Yeah. I wouldn't say I study it, but observe it," said Duber-Smith. 

Duber-Smith has been addressing these trends for years, and the bottom line according to him is: Christmas does come earlier, but it's not driven by us consumers — rather corporations who need — or want — to bump up sales to cover their bottom line.

"The idea is that the holiday is 40% of total sales for most companies — and so it's make or break. If you don't do well during the holidays, you're not probably going to provide the return on investment you've promised your shareholders. So, they have to get rid of their inventory now, and so the discounts are even deeper than usual because of the inventories the stores still have," he said. 

A survey from Gallup released in October found that more than 1 in 4 people, 28%, are generally open to starting their shopping earlier. That number jumped to 48% when sales started earlier. 

And this is among a population in which 41% of people said they already start their holiday shopping in October or earlier.

"This week and next week we really start getting into the really busy season. People like to be decorated for Thanksgiving when they have everyone to their house. They want their Christmas usually set," said Shaina Swallow, the manager at St. Nick's.

Swallow doesn't mind — it just means more business for the store. She says they start seeing people really start to trickle in to the year-round Christmas store beginning in August. Then, starting in November the rush happens, which makes up about 50% of her store's year-round revenue. 

SCRIPPS NEWS' DAN GROSSMAN: So the fact that Christmas always starts earlier only benefits you guys?

SHAINA SWALLOW: Yes, financially. I think emotionally it benefits everyone who participates in it. Christmas is a feeling. Christmas is a desire, a longing for. It has a huge sentimental value.

It's a sentimental value that can transcend religions and cultures like few others can. So, if you want to crack open some eggnog before Halloween — no one's stopping you. If you want to dress like an idiot in a Grinch onesie in November — who cares? This is Christmas, darn it, and if the corporate man is gonna push it on us earlier and earlier — we might as well lean into it.


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