Take a quick stroll through any mall and you’ll be bombarded with signs for holiday sales, glimmering garland, elaborate Christmas trees and inescapable red and green color schemes.
Undoubtedly, this festive adornment is a cheerful reminder of the holiday season, but there are still three more weeks until December. More and more, November, and more specifically Thanksgiving, has been passed over in favor of the glistening adornments of Christmas.
Thanksgiving as a holiday promotes togetherness and an all-around gratitude for the gifts we may take for granted in our day-to-day lives. It harks back to 1921 Plymouth when, as our elementary school teachers would tell it, the pilgrims and Native Americans sat down to share a bountiful harvest. With such a peaceful and profound history, it’s a wonder it’s not more celebrated.
To many, the too-soon Christmas promotions are an outrage that robs them of the nostalgia associated with Thanksgiving. Krystine Batcho, a psychology professor at Le Moyne College, told CBS Connecticut that people react negatively to early holiday celebrations because it lessens the emotional meaning Thanksgiving has held in their lives.
“Saturating public space with earlier and earlier holiday fare is upsetting because it violates and devalues the psychological role holidays play in our lives,” Batcho said. “Their value depends upon their distinctiveness and special features. Earlier holiday dÃ©cor separates us from the actual events that hold, and will hold, such emotional meaning for us.”
This being said, for those who prefer the holiday season to the often-passed-over Thanksgiving, the red and green sprouting up in shops in early November is a welcomed sight. Regardless of personal preference, the question of why stores hang the holiday dÃ©cor so early still begs to be answered.
The more innocuous answer is that shopkeepers simply want to celebrate the joy associated with the holidays for a longer time. The second, and more probable reason, is that Christmastime is a proverbial gold mine for business owners.
The National Retail Federation reported that last year $579.5 billion in holiday sales were brought in, a 3.5 percent boost in overall sales. In retail, specifically, holiday spending characterized 19.3 percent of total industry sales. These numbers indicate that early holiday advertising is working.
“The key is to get people thinking about shopping for gifts early,” Dr. Laura Brannon, a professor of psychological sciences at Kansas State University, told CBS Connecticut.
“Even if the media doesn’t influence people’s attitudes toward a candidate, for example, focusing a lot on the economy gets people thinking about the economy. Similarly, stores are probably trying to get people into the shopping spirit by getting them to think about a shopping season,” Brannon said.
For this reason, we see stores releasing holiday deals earlier and earlier. On Sept. 18, Toys “R” Us released its “2013 Holiday Hot Toy List.” On Nov. 8, Hallmark stores hosted a “Holiday Open House,” offering shoppers deals on Christmas dÃ©cor. These are just two examples of the many stores capitalizing on the Christmas spirit.
While business owners have making money on their minds, holiday shoppers have saving money as their goal. Any thrifty shopper will tell you that starting early is a smart thing to do when it comes to buying gifts, thus avoiding dropping hundreds or even thousands of dollars all at once. With stores like Target offering layaway programs and holiday deals popping up in early November, economically it makes sense to start early.
Whether or not early holiday shopping and the already-festive storefronts kill the Thanksgiving spirit remains an individual prospect; some welcome the premature Christmas spirit, and some shun it. If you’re of the latter, stay away from malls and catalogs and fill your head with thoughts of pilgrims and cranberry sauce until this forgotten holiday passes.