If you haven't started yet, you'd better hurry before all the good decorations are gone.
Christmas decorations arrive - for Labor Day weekend
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 2, 2005 01:33 PM
Back-to-school shopping is barely over, but retailers think people are ready to trim Christmas trees.
It's not your imagination: Holiday decorations are already on store shelves in the Valley, and in some cases, earlier than ever before.
Giant inflatable snowmen, artificial Christmas trees and nativity scenes showed up more than two weeks ago at Sam's Club stores. Costco has ornaments and lawn decorations, and Michael's Arts and Crafts Store is selling stockings and collectible figurines.
With Halloween merchandise just taking the stage in most stores and back-to-school sales ongoing, many shoppers shake their heads when they see Christmas decorations thrown into the mix.
"I'm not even geared up for Halloween yet," said Rena Marlar of Phoenix, who was shopping at a Phoenix Sam's Club on Wednesday.
But for retailers, it's never too early to start making money on the industry's biggest shopping season of the year.
"You want to put it on customers minds as soon as possible," said Delia Garcia, a Phoenix-based spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, which owns Sam's Club.
Retailers across the nation ring up more than $200 billion of merchandise - from clothes and electronics to greeting cards and tinsel - during the holidays, according to an industry trade group.
Last year, the National Retail Federation predicted people would spend an average of $35.91 on decorations and $702.03 overall. Spending has been increasing for several years.
"Consumers are leading the trend," said Ellen Davis, spokeswoman for the federation. "People like to get their decorations early."
Card shops, craft stores and discounters are typically the first to promote holiday merchandise, but most retailers wait until October.
"I think Christmas is a little too far off for most people, even for retailers," Davis said.
A Sam's Club manager in Phoenix said the store is still hoping to pull in lots of Labor Day sales, but that Christmas merchandise already is moving off the shelves.
At the Card Shoppe in Metrocenter mall in Phoenix, dozens of Christmas ornaments have been for sale since July. Two or three are sold a day, store managers say.
"We had a lot of people commenting on it when we were putting them up," said Erin Walters, assistant store manager.
Shopper Manuel Martinezof Phoenix said he might shop for gifts now. But he calls himself a traditionalist when it comes to décor, preferring to ignore holiday merchandise until Thanksgiving.
"Obviously someone out there is buying it," Martinez said. "I'm just not one of them."