“Christmas creep” seems to start earlier every year, with holiday decor showing up in stores well before Halloween – and as early as September. While many people would rather see holiday trappings in their proper order, the fact is that Boston Metro shoppers like to do their gift-buying early.
According to the National Retail Federation, about 40% of consumers in the U.S. begin their holiday shopping in October. About 19% start their holiday shopping in September. The motivation for early birds includes avoiding holiday crowds, and spreading out their spending. In the Boston Metro, we can add avoiding winter weather to the list!
Even if shoppers don’t plan to buy gifts before November, retailers have discovered that holiday shopping moods can be induced with seasonal decorations. This is why holiday ornaments are practically displayed in tandem with back-to-school supplies. If you see it, you might buy it! This is particularly true when an item is a “limited edition” or offers a special discount.
However, advance specials and discounting has caused a “race to the bottom” among already-struggling retailers. Black Friday, once akin to a holiday itself, is losing significance. Consumers have become accustomed to seeing rock-bottom prices well before Black Friday, and sharp discounts through the end of December. How, then, can retailers remain both competitive and profitable? That question has no easy answer.
Meanwhile, Boston Metro retailers should take advantage of every opportunity. Festive window displays, entryways, and holiday decor provide a shopping mood and experience that online shopping cannot emulate. So go ahead – have fresh-baked cookies and complimentary hot cocoa in the store. Be the first on the block to offer pictures with Santa. Play Christmas music early. To some shoppers, it’s “pushing the season,” but to the holiday early birds, you’ll be playing their song.
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