Deck the Malls
I saw the first signs on November 1st. I was at the grocery store, hunting for discounted Halloween candy when I saw the glitter. And then sparkles. And a tube of shiny coloured paper. Disbelief took hold. There was no way….was it possible…..were the Christmas products on the shelves already?! I still had a jack o’lantern on my front porch. I hadn’t even bought my Remembrance Day poppy yet. How was I supposed to get into the holiday spirit?
There used to be a very clear start to the holiday shopping rush. The day after American Thanksgiving meant the unofficial countdown to Christmas was on. When the stores opened on Black Friday there would be fancy decorations everywhere the eye could see, and the holiday muzak would start playing through the mall on a 24/7 loop. Parking lots and stores would get crowded and chaotic, and the line-up to visit Santa would wind around fake reindeer and big red SALE signs. But the last few years have seen a definite shift in the retail market in regards to when the season starts. More and more, store owners are trying to speed up the clock and get their customers looking to the end of the year. Forget Black Friday – several big-name American retailers started their seasonal sales in July!
There is sound logic behind the push towards a longer shopping season. Consumers have less money to spend, and retailers are fighting each other for every last penny. Impulse shopping is at an all-time low, and more consumers are focused on budgeting and necessity spending than ever before. Retailers need to work hard to make shoppers open their wallets. Malls and big-box retailers are being hit especially hard in recent years, with increases in local and online shopping affecting the amount of people who walk through the mall to work through their Christmas list. Spreading the Christmas shopping season over several months will allow shoppers to spread their spending out, thus spending more cash in the process. Stores are then able to spread their costs out over a greater period of time, which allows for more steady revenue over an extended period. It’s just good business sense.