Shopping for school supplies weeks ago, I turned down an aisle at Costco Wholesale and, to my horror, came face to face with a Christmas tree. My first instinct was to cover my children’s eyes. Too late. My youngest pounced: “Mommy, is it almost Christmas? Can we buy that big Santa?” It wasn’t even Labor Day yet.
The reasons are logical enough: Costco shoppers, accustomed to buying everything in bulk, like to be prepared. And Kmart knows that buyers in a rough economy will start thinking about layaway earlier than usual. Christmas shopping season is to retailers what sequels are to Hollywood: an easy, safe way to gin up interest.
Costco was designed for medium to small businesses to help reduce costs, but individuals (like me) who do not qualify for business membership can obtain “gold star” access and shop away. For the small businesses, it makes sense to offer stock early. Customers buying for resale in their own stores will have to plan for the holiday rush.
I called Costco’s headquarters in Issaquah, WA to ask if shoppers really wanted to buy a nine-foot faux Christmas tree in August? They didn’t respond, but a closer source, my daughter, answered an emphatic “Yes.”
I saw plenty of other children in Costco that late summer day begging for some Christmas in their carts. And although I did manage to veto pleas for any yuletide items bigger than my head, in the end we bought a string of 700 LED Christmas lights.
Do you have an averse reaction to stores that promote Christmas months ahead of time? Tell us why in a comment or blog post.