OPINION: Christmas creep infects retailers and damages the shopping experience

Picture moseying on into Target hoping to pick up some groceries for Thanksgiving dinner, but much to one’s dismay, the store is decked out in tinsel and hawking Christmas presents in early November or sooner. The Christmas season seems to start a little earlier each year, with stores putting up holiday displays and airing seasonal ads as early as four months before the actual holiday. This is the phenomenon known as Christmas creep, or encroachment. 

Early advertising may be profitable for companies, but they are annoying. They make the holiday season feel rushed and hectic. With Christmas decorations rolling out before Thanksgiving, patrons feel an uncomfortable retailer-enforced, consumerist Christmas spirit, applying pressure to start holiday shopping too soon. 

Advertisements targeted towards holiday shopping are aired early, and radio talk shows start taking holiday sponsors months before Christmas. The rush to the season has left many people with the feeling that time is slipping away. Already time-pressed and juggling too many things at once during the holiday season, Christmas creep becomes added stress. Balancing holiday shopping with work becomes a struggle, and seeing Christmas decorations everywhere is frustrating. 

Christmas creep makes people feel robbed of time and fond memories. People barely have any time to set aside for making memories during Thanksgiving, Diwali, Hanukkah, and other holidays between Halloween and Christmas. The holidays are meant to be a deeply emotional and nostalgic time, and seeing Santa store displays in September cheapens the holiday and sinks the spirit.  

Brevity is part of the reason Christmas is so enjoyable. Without it, the holiday season would lack that “magic” in the air. The Christmas creep phenomenon diminishes the anticipation and excitement for Christmas to arrive. Limiting the pleasures of holidays and celebrations to a short period of the year increases the desirablity and effect, making the holiday encroachment an enemy to those who enjoy the essence of that time of the year.  

For some retailers, seasonal profit can make or break their entire year. Since companies make a large amount of money from Christmas sales, they tend to extend the Christmas period as long as possible. The collective goal is to release Christmas merchandise earlier so they can cater to early shoppers. This, however, negatively affects businesses from regular shoppers. 

Manipulating people into buying Christmas-themed items has created a consumer-centric culture that diminishes other end-of-the-year events. Restraining Christmas marketing, however, has proved profitable. Shoppers have recognized brands holding off on Christmas encroachment and endorsed or supported them over other companies. Some stores, such as Nordstrom, are beginning to take note and have begun to delay Christmas marketing and festive clothing displays, and sales seemed to stay the same as previous years, according to the article “One Major Retailer Is Trying to Slow Down Christmas” by Anna Zambelli. 

Christmas creep has become much more extreme because corporations want to make the most profit, and large profits seem to go to those that start Christmas the earliest. This marketing phenomenon only puts a damper on the magic of the holiday season.