I love wandering the aisles of my local big box store. But, every year, something happens in late October that chills me to the bone. It’s not the ghoulish Halloween costumes or the spooky decorations that freak me out. My nightmare scenario begins when I spot a six-foot tall, pre-lit Douglas fir sharing shelf space with the 99¢ jack-o-lanterns.
It’s called the Christmas creep, a phenomenon in which retailers set out holiday merchandise earlier and earlier each year – sometimes bypassing the Thanksgiving holiday altogether. The stores that do carry Thanksgiving merchandise tend to have a limited supply and often mark it down along with Halloween items. This makes it nearly impossible for shoppers to find those horn of plenty dinner napkins come mid-November.
Target stores want to change all of that for their customers. At least this year.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Target has announced that it will cool down on the Christmas creep in 2017. Instead of bombarding us with holiday shopping ads and store displays on November 1, Target will spend the first few weeks of November prominently displaying Thanksgiving signage in the front of the store. They will also focus on Thanksgiving meal preparation, presumably within their grocery section.
Target’s CMO, Rick Gomez, admitted to AP that the change comes about because many customers want stores to do a better job recognizing Thanksgiving. I am definitely one of those customers. I love getting together with my family for Thanksgiving, dare I say even more than at Christmas. I’m all about that disposable harvest decor life, but there’s usually very little to be found.
For years, retail stores haven’t allowed us to bask in the season we are in. Swimsuits are out before Valentine’s Day. 4th of July sparklers are adjacent to the back-to-school section. Want a pair of shorts for Labor Day weekend? Good luck. Maybe you’ll find some in the clearance aisle behind the new display of winter coats.
It’s no wonder that online marketplaces like Amazon are taking over. It’s actually possible for me to buy a ceramic turkey platter in the month of November and get it in two days.
Whether this intentional recognition of Thanksgiving Day becomes a Target tradition or even catches on to other stores remains to be seen.
What does this mean for the early birds who like shopping for their Christmas decor before Black Friday? I think it’s safe to assume that Target’s holiday aisle will immediately go from haunted to merry, just as it always has. This year, there will simply be a few more cornucopias in the mix.