IT was BARELY February 15th. The red and white still lingering in a few spots from Valentine’s Day (the day before). I was at the Dollar Store picking up a few things and to my horror I saw it. Could it be? Was I imagining things? Nope. It was official. St. Patrick’s Day paraphernalia had already taken over the shelves.
Gone are the days in mid-January when you can still get some good deals on the few Christmas and New Year’s ‘stragglers’ left on the shelves. Once January 2nd hits? It’s like Christmas never even happened. I have noticed this trend in previous years with Halloween and Christmas (aka the Christmas Creep) but it’s slowly lurking forward…soon it will have overtaken every holiday we know and love. The holiday absurdity of retail.
I have wondered why this “in your face” approach that stores take is growing. I have a few ideas about why, and I feel pretty confident one of the main reasons is the increasing popularity of online shopping. While I am not 100% convinced that online shopping is the way to for everyone, it does have it’s benefits. No annoying music to listen too, no crowds, no suffering in poorly climate-controlled stores, no parking spot stalking, no tired and upset children.. the list goes on. In fact, SOASTA (a cloud and mobile testing company) did a survey and found that 75% of humanity dislikes the fact that stores put up their Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving (in the US). And another 78% of people loathe the fact that holiday music gets played in the ‘physical palaces of purchase’.
Maybe retailers have to ‘force’ the next holiday upon us so quickly in order for us to forget the hassle and stress we are feeling, and try to coax us into a more ‘festive’ mood. I have news for them if this is the case. It doesn’t work. I surmise it invokes the complete opposite reaction for most. It adds to our already sky-high stress levels and makes people feel rushed. According to Purdue University retail management professor Richard Feinberg, one of the worst things a store can do is have empty shelves. They need to fill that with something. He goes on to say that over the past five years, stores have learned to keep leaner inventories. He says retailers have gotten better at predicting what will sell — and stores have learned it’s better to sell out than have inventory left over.
So well that’s all fine and dandy, I will still continue to complain about the ridiculousness of the whole thing as I quietly slip those Easter chocolates into my cart…