It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween in August. Okay, there are enough things to worry or complain about in the world, but the pushing of the seasons into unseasonal territory continues to be bothersome, at least for me. Going into two different Long Island stores this weekend, I was confronted with Halloween displays. Even my kids said, “Halloween? But it’s August!” Yes, my children, and the retail haunting has already begun.
I started to get annoyed by this situation a few years ago when I first noticed Christmas decorations on the shelves right next to Halloween items in early October. Forget Thanksgiving, that inconsequential (from a retail perspective) celebration that just happens to fall rather inconveniently between Halloween and Christmas. I know people who work in retail, and they are eager to get the fastest selling items on display early despite the calendar; however, red and green decorations look out of place next to black and orange items. Who cares, right?
As I have said in the past, we are moving toward the concept of mega-holidays – one huge celebration encompassing major holidays. If you think the notion of a “Hallothanksmas” is out of the realm of possibility, think again. In the retail world (which starts to resemble a Twilight Zone of increasing marketing annoyance each year) it is already happening.
I used to hear my first Christmas song on the radio the day after Thanksgiving, but last year I walked into a big department store in New York City and heard old Bing singing “White Christmas” on Veteran’s Day (November 11th here in the U.S.). Even Der Bingle would note that tree tops weren’t glistening and kids weren’t listening for sleigh bells at that moment. Not to be outdone by one store starting Christmas music early, every store I went into after that had the carols blasting like it was Christmas Eve.
Maybe I am acting like the Grinch who stole a pumpkin, but I don’t like that back to school signs and items appeared in stores around the 4th of July either. By pushing the seasons way ahead on the calendar, retailers are hoping to get an edge of some kind, but I believe they are alienating customers. Now, when I took my kids to get the things on their back to school list, I had trouble locating them because pumpkins, witches, and ghosts ruled the shelves. It’s enough to drive a customer batty. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Will we ever get retailers to change the way they do business? It’s probably as likely as my beloved New York Mets getting to the World Series this year (or any year for that matter). I guess I’ll have to live with it, but I’ll never like it.
Anyway, we eventually did locate the things we needed (though the supply had been depleted), much to the chagrin of the kids. Those incessantly smiling faces of summer had decidedly turned to frowns as we carried pencils and books to the car in anticipation of teachers’ dirty looks. Back to school becomes a reality in two days. Now, for my kids, that’s something truly spooky!
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