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It's that time of the year ... time for the leaves to change, corn mazes to sprout up, pumpkin spice latte demand so strong Starbucks has shortages. And of course, it's time for the perennial favorite of writers everywhere: "I can't believe they already have Christmas stuff out and its not even Halloween."

Y-A-W-N.

Oh, excuse me, I suppose I should be in the camp talking about "the good old days" when Ralphie and Flick would admire the merchandise retailers had put in the shop windows during the annual Christmas parade at Higbees. Or wax on about when parents only purchased gifts for the kids during the Christmas season. (That hasn't happened in a generation — at least.) Or maybe I should extol Nordstrom again because they won't put up decorations until Thanksgiving Day.

Sorry, there is one basic reason all retailers should do this. Wallets.

Most people have a mental budget of what they will spend for the holidays; for decorations, for gifts for the family, for the teachers/coaches, for the office — the works.

The sooner those customers have spent money earmarked for holiday purchases, the less they will spend when it comes the traditional time to think about buying holiday gifts.

And that's the opportunity for all retailers to put out their holiday merchandise now.

This isn't something new but it is something smaller retailers have resisted and I suggest they get on board.

There's a reason Target and Walmart started their holiday layaway plans early — they know Millennials. That generation is closer to my grandparents with their thriftiness. They know how to make their money go a long way and budget it accordingly.

Apple's smaller iPad will take a huge amount out of mom and dad's holiday budgets. And what will be left for some retailers will be much smaller.

The big boxes did it originally because they got rid of distribution centers and delivered the holiday merchandise that came over on the boat directly to stores. Without stockrooms, whatever sold was a bonus.

With less staff, it can take longer to get the merchandise out onto the floor.

And let's face it, Halloween doesn't have the breadth of merchandise across all categories like Christmas and holiday merchandise does.

So, if you are a retailer, find a way to get your holiday merchandise out there now before a competitor steals your customer and gets them to open their wallet now — leaving you with a potential lump of coal.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Chillbert Dilbert
    46072048
    Or you could find your store avoided by the millions of people who are totally turned off by the commercialization of Christmas and avoid those that start Christmas in May. Starting before Halloween can turn consumers off as much as spur them to buy early.
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the Retail Doctor

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Bob Phibbs
Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, is a popular motivational speaker and small business Consultant who has transformed thousands of businesses throughout the world with his straightforward, proven advice. His success at making over businesses has been featured on PBS Life & Times, in the Los Angeles Times, Entrepreneur magazine, and the New York Times.
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