Although Christmas falls at the end of December, retailers typically begin merchandising for the season by Nov. 1.
This seems premature to many customers, but employees at some local stores say the objective for retailers is always growing a profitable business.
Edie Flaterud has been an employee with various stores for nearly a decade and has been managing for the past four years.
Flaterud says there are a variety of reasons retailers set up early for Christmas.
“Christmas is the holiday where we generate most of our yearly sales. It’s important to get customers thinking about it.
“We want to keep things interesting, no one likes looking at a blank wall,” Flaterud says.
Emily Jesse, a business student at SAIT and former retail employee, agrees with Flaterud.
“Merchandising early gives the customer time to think about the purchase longer.
“When someone is exposed to something over and over again it doesn’t leave their thoughts,” says Jesse.
Although consumers often express their distaste for early merchandising, Jesse says that it ultimately increases sales.
“People buy things then forget about them, or use the things they purchase before they give it as intended,”
This encourages return customers, says Jesse.
However, Jesse also says the key to profiting from early merchandising is doing it gradually.
“I have heard many people get upset when the holiday set-up happens before Remembrance Day.
“I think retailers need to be sensitive to the things that will turn customers away just as much as things that will attract them.
“Gradual merchandising is more effective. It can be overwhelming when suddenly the entire store looks different,” says Jesse.
Some staff also don’t care for the early season Christmas trimmings.
“I think it’s weird,” said one retail employee, who is a student at SAIT and spoke on background.
“Decorations should be out the beginning of December.”
Despite the benefits of early merchandising, some retailers are making statements by refusing to decorate until closer to the Christmas season.
For the last 20 years, U.S. department store chain Nordstrom has been making a statement by leaving Christmas merchandising until after American Thanksgiving, according to CNN.
Signs that are displayed annually at Nordstrom say, “We won’t be decking our halls until [Black Friday]. Why? We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time.
“Our stores will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving festivities.
“On Friday, our doors will open to ring in the new season in style.”
Nordstrom has a store in Chinook Centre, in Calgary.