MIAMI (CBS4) — It’s mid September, so everyone get ready for – Christmas? In a phenomenon retailers call “Christmas Creep,” more stores are putting out their decorations, trees and wrapping earlier each year, with some appearing in the first weeks of September. Forget Thanksgiving, or Halloween, some stores are going straight to Santa and his reindeer.
“September is usually back to school, fall, Halloween, and Christmas is, is, it’s very surprising,” said shopper Marie Wicoff.
At Costco stores across the country, they’re decking the halls with holiday merchandise. From Frosty the Snowman’s, to wreaths and nativities, the big box retailer has practically everything but the mistletoe.
“When I saw them taking Christmas trees out, I was like here we go, not even Halloween and they’re already selling this stuff,” said shopper Trisha Fallon.
The only items that will come late in the season: Fresh-cut trees.
“Retailers have been preparing all year for the holiday and they know that in many cases Christmas is going to make or break their year,” explained Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation. “It’s very important for them to have a good strategy.”
Costco rolled out the Christmas merchandise at the beginning of September, dedicating eight aisles to the December holiday. General Manager Neil Lynch has been with the company 16 years. He says this is nothing new for his company.
“Costco’s philosophy is to be in first and to be out first. We’re ahead of everyone on this kind of stuff. This is normal for us,” said Lynch.
But other retailers are catching up.
Home Depot will start selling Christmas items on Monday. Kmart and Sears on the 25th, and Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney by the end of the month.
Retail analysts say it’s a trend that accelerated at the beginning of the recession in 2008. In a down economy consumers need to spread their spending over 4 months, not 4 days.
“It’s a little rushed, however, with the economy and the times I can understand it because it gives people a chance to see what’s out there and then save and hopefully be able to do a nice Christmas,” said Wicoff.
Wary shoppers shouldn’t expect to see big ticket gifts on sale just yet, or Santa in the mall anytime soon.
“Retailers are still very sensitive to the fact that many people don’t like to think about the holiday season at least until we get to the fall,” said Davis. “But rest assured, many retailers will have a special section in their stores, just for you.”
The big question: when will you get the best deals? Analysts believe most people will wait to buy big gifts until November and December when retailers roll out the big bargains. Right now customers are mostly stocking up on stocking stuffers and decorations.