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It's Beginning To Sound Like E-commerce Christmas

October 1, 2007
I'm always amazed at how early Christmas decorations start showing up in retail stores. All I can say is, I'm glad for Halloween.


Halloween, being a huge merchandising opportunity (candy, costumes, decorations, plastic skulls made in China, cheap fog machines, compilation CDs of spooky music, fake plastic tombstones, etc.), does us a favor. It "holds back" the Christmas merchandising until, at the very least, November 1st. Most stores have only so much space for holiday promotions, and they certainly don't want to miss out on a lucrative holiday like Halloween, so it's not until November 1st that they rip their shelves clean of black and orange candy and plastic bats to make room for the jingling, holly-jolly, faux-snowy blinking merchandise bonanza of Christmas.

Without Halloween, we'd be subject to in-store Christmas decorations (and piped-in Muzak Christmas carols) starting shortly after shops moved the red, white and blue Fourth of July schmaltz off the shelves.

Online retailers, or stores with a strong online/catalog presence, however, have the luxury of being able to start earlier with their Christmas promotions, as they are not restrained by physical merchandising space. It just wouldn't feel like summer if I didn't receive an LL Bean Catalog with a happy family dragging home the snowy Christmas tree on the cover, or pages and pages of adorable golden retriever puppies snoozing by the fire on flannel tartan dog beds. These usually arrive in August. Pottery Barn has been sending me autumnal/winter promotions in my e-mail for weeks now. I admit it works. I take one look at the cover of their catalog, or their HTML e-mails, even if it's in June, and I suddenly want to light a fireplace fire, make a hearty stew, buy a bottle of good red wine and feel the chill of autumn. I pretend not to notice that the spring bulbs are still blooming and the neighbors are walking down to the beach in flip-flops and straw hats.

Of course, I catch my own summer bug in approximately February, which is when a flurry of e-mails remind me that it's almost summertime and I should be brewing the lemonade and slapping on SPF 15, nevermind the three feet of snow on the ground.

I realize that stores, both physical and online, have numbers to make, and no numbers are more important than those that coincide with the winter holidays.

It'd just be nice once to enjoy the last days of summer without being told that if we don't buy the limited edition Yuletide wassail bowl now, we'll be the outcasts of the neighborhood.


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