Observant shoppers will have noticed something ominous in recent weeks: the arrival of fall and winter products and holiday marketing/promotions in many stores. As unbelievable as it might seem, considering the fact that much of the country is still experiencing 90-degree heat and a glance at the calendar shows that it is barely September as I write this edition of Retail Rap, the holiday hullabaloo is already underway. The Halloween décor you saw showing up in August in Walmart is not a figment of your imagination, and the cinnamon pinecones you smell in the bins outside the grocery store are really there.
My own personal take on the timing issue is that the holiday season phenomenon has been pushed about as far as it can reasonably go. When we go to the store and see all these signals that fall is here, even though both the weather and the calendar might say otherwise, there’s a kind of seasonal dissonance that sets in. Because who wants winter to come that quickly? How many shoppers are really ready to think about this stuff, much less actually start buying it? Ultimately, I’m not sure if this is helping to move more merchandise.
Let’s discuss the issues that the growing trend of pushing the holiday shopping “season” up earlier may cause for brick-and-mortar retailers in this edition of Retail Rap.