Experts' CornerNews and Events

The Grinch Who Stole Thanksgiving

Somewhere along the way, Thanksgiving got stolen while patiently awaiting the arrival of Christmas. By most accounts, the folks who love Thanksgiving say they know the culprit responsible for committing this dastardly deed. It happened the day after Halloween (November 1st to be precise) while holiday revelers sadly put away their costumes and children happily dipped hands into bags of candy hoping to discover their favorite treats. Being preoccupied, no one was paying attention. So, you may ask, who do folks blame for stealing Thanksgiving, the beloved family holiday? Was it the Grinch, who is jealous and green with envy? No, all fingers point to Christmas creep!

Christmas creep is real and growing by the day. Consumers complain that some retailers have bypassed Thanksgiving and play Christmas music nonstop. They also put up holiday displays on the heels of Halloween. Fast-forwarding Christmas can lead to holiday fatigue and disenchantment with retailers who expand the season to make having sales the reason to celebrate. However, big box retailers and market researchers see the expansion of the Christmas holiday selling season from a different perspective.

For retailers, it boils down to going head-to-head with brick-and-mortar competitors and online giants such as Amazon. Holding early promotions give retailers additional opportunities to showcase products and offers shoppers a longer length of time to research potential gifts and finalize their purchasing decisions.

Today’s hottest deals are no longer held in check for Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) or the following week on Cyber Monday. Retailers now exercise the option to hold Black Friday events any time of the year to create excitement and generate sales. Some home improvement retailers such as Menards also hold Black Friday events in early spring or late July.

However, overexposure of Black Friday events has made these promotions a marketing cliché in the minds of many savvy consumers rather than an authentic way to showcase popular products at incredible prices. Yet, there are practical reasons other than profit that has made Christmas creep the norm rather than the exception in the world of retail.

  • Research indicates shoppers want to start and finish their shopping early
  • Extending the selling season helps retailers avoid upsetting shoppers by forcing them to wait in long lines
  • Smaller retailers can manage sales with their current number of employees and don’t need to “staff up” by hiring temporary employees
  • The upswing in online shopping has made the 4th quarter even more crucial to the profitability of brick-and-mortar stores

Walmart recently announced cashiers will be walking the sales floor equipped with devices to help customers complete their purchases and avoid long checkout lines. On the other hand, Amazon is opening brick-and-mortar stores that focus on delivering products to the consumer quickly and efficiently. These changes are due to the shift in consumer buying habits and both company’s desire to streamline the shopping experience. By the time most consumers arrive in-store, they’ve already done their research online and have narrowed down the list of products they want to purchase. The pressure is on retailers to seal the deal and ensure that customers have a hassle-free experience.

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