The first study, conducted by CreditCards.com over Labor Day weekend, found that roughly one in seven, or 32 million Americans, have already begun buying for the holidays. The study also found that 2 percent of all consumers—accounting for about 4.6 million people—have already crossed everything off their list.
The second survey, issued by digital advertising technology firm Rubicon Project, found that an even more robust one-third of shoppers across the U.S., UK and Canada have already kicked off their holiday spending.
"We love to complain about stores putting up holiday displays earlier and earlier each year," said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com. "But the truth is that millions of Americans start holiday shopping long before the first Christmas tree appears in a store."
Normally, I would complain about this: "Blah blah blah consumerism blah blah blah spirit of Christmas blah blah blah greedy retailers etc ad infinitum." But this year, it would be hypocritical, because this year, I have, in fact, already made a Christmas-related purchase. I didn't go shopping on purpose to find it, and it's not anything big--but it's exactly the kind of thing I usually pick up at the last minute when the selection is next to gone and the prices have been increased/sales have ended to take advantage of procrastinators like me. Since money keeps getting tighter, I figured I'd better buy things when they are in stock and on sale.
Still, I have to admit that there are potential downsides to "Christmas creep." No one wants to see Christmas trees or ornaments on sale right after Easter, for instance. And at least some retailers have to hope that the parents and grandparents who shopped early will end up shopping twice, either because the little tykes' lists change weekly, or because they forgot where they hid the gifts so the children wouldn't find them.
But then again--wouldn't it be nice if you could find certain things in the stores all year round? Slippers, for instance: it can be awfully hard to buy slippers any time other than during the "Christmas shopping season." Children's bathrobes are another "seasonal" item that shouldn't be, but pity the poor kid who wants a bathrobe for her birthday in January; there might be one or two hanging forlornly on a clearance rack somewhere, but retailers act like nobody ever needs a bathrobe except sometime in December (for those Christmas morning photos, of course!). Before there was Amazon, jewelry boxes were sort of like that, too, and even now it can be hard to find a jewelry box in an actual retail store other than during the Christmas season. As for toys--well, more than once I thought I should buy toys for my daughter with the June birthday back when I was buying them for her sisters whose birthdays are in December and January, because once the Christmas toy season is over, you're reduced to a few ordinary dolls and games until the next Christmas season rolls around.
The truth is, I'm torn. I don't want it to be commercial Christmas all year in the stores, but I admit that it can be convenient to pick up a few things early on and not have much, or any, shopping to do in December.
What do you think? Do you shop early for Christmas? Why or why not?