Christmas Creep is a term bandied about in the media that describes the arrival of Christmas-related merchandise in stores. The media claims it shows up earlier and earlier each year.
That’s a myth.
Christmas merchandise is available year round in many specialty stores. But in mass merchants such as WalMart, Costco, Target, Kmart and others the complaint is that the stores keep bringing in Christmas merchandise earlier every year.
Here’s the truth: Christmas merchandise begins to arrive in back rooms of all sales floor as early as June. Most stores begin merchandising it right after the 4th of July. This has been a common practice since the early 1980s.
Because summer is winding down and back-to-school signals the fall selling season. While many stores begin displaying some Christmas product in the peak of summer it is usually on a limited basis and intended more to cover holes in other seasonal merchandising sets as it sells down. For example, as demand for garden and patio products wane in the summer months WalMart begins to showcase some Christmas merchandise.
However, full displays of total Christmas product line usually doesn’t happen until after Halloween.
Why do the retailers do this?
As the advent of massive home Christmas displays has grown over the years so too has demand increased for more of these outdoor Christmas products increased. A typical light display of 20,000 lights or more usually is accompanied by Christmas themed inflatables, blow-mold plastics, or wood and metal crafted accessories — everything from Christmas trees to snowmen. Planning for such large displays usually means having to buy these items well in advance of the season.
Do the early merchandising dates mean that these big stores actually sell more Christmas product? Hardly.
In fact, retailers frequently refer the period of time between Back-to-School and Halloween as a “holiday showcase” — where new products are often displayed in an effort to drive future sales.
If Christmas Creep were really an issue as the media makes it out to be consumers would be seeing more impulse gifts, ready-wrapped products and fresh Christmas items (from foods to evergreens) ready to sell in August. But that just doesn’t happen.
Christmas creep is a myth.