Every year as the weather turns colder and the season begins to change, there are two things no one can avoid: the inevitable passage of time, and Mariah Carey. And since bonfire night is over, it’s only natural that we already have a new John Lewis advert, Santa Claus on Coke cans and the Christmas movies of old making their way onto our screens. It’s no wonder that every year towards the end of October one question finds itself becoming just as unavoidable: “why does Christmas seem to start earlier every year?”
Well, the first reason is that the longer a company can advertise for Christmas, the more time the target audience has to come across the advert, see it multiple times, then buy the product. Making an advert that is memorable and giving it time to sink in is important if you want the customer to go out and buy it. As a result, it benefits companies to get their advert out there as soon as possible. On top of this, businesses will want to catch their audience at around the time that they start thinking of Christmas shopping so that their product is the first one that comes to mind.
On top of this, the basic truth of advertising first, getting seen first means that this point of getting ahead of the game is a source of competition. Gift and food companies are always trying to get ahead of each other for a spot at your Christmas table, and this is another reason why we keep seeing adverts get earlier and earlier. After all, you’re more likely to think of the first thing you saw when a similar product comes along later.
Another good reason for advertising so early, is that if a company’s advertising tactics are not effective, they will have some time to adjust them before Christmas is over. If they advertise early, then they will have plenty of time to rethink marketing strategies that don’t work out. That way even if they are not able to fully capitalise on the wave of early shoppers, they will be able to rectify their marketing before the seasonal rush. This is also being accentuated by the fact that in recent years, people are starting the Christmas preparations earlier and earlier as modern life gets busier.
With members of the public like you and me being busier than ever and having less time to shop, especially nearer the holidays, the idea of getting all of your Christmas shopping done in advance is certainly an appealing one. And that is why companies are also trying to pre-empt this, making sure to advertise to even the most obscenely early shopper. Who could forget the January adverts of the Park Christmas catalogue; designed to help people save for Christmas from the very beginning of the year?
The run-up to Christmas isn’t just important to corporate entities. The same rules apply to Independent businesses. The competition for sales around Christmas time is fierce, and when you don’t have a team of advertisers working for you, getting your customers attention means spreading the word in any way you can as soon as possible. If it is a Christmas product that you are trying to sell, the window in which people will buy it is only as long as the season. However, getting the word out about the product takes just as long as ever, so it is probably best to get your product out there around the beginning of November to maximise the time in which your product will be available to buy over the Christmas season. It is also best to sell early due to the sales and delivery traffic that begins around Christmas. Every part of retail experiences more sales as Christmas approaches. So If you want to keep up and compete with the production rates of larger brands, then you want your sales to be spread over that time!
For the consumer, there are good reasons to buy early too: as around Christmas time there is often a strain on the postal services, due to the sheer volume both by those celebrating Christmas, or imports and exports trying to capitalise on it, it is not too uncommon for parcels to get lost, damaged or delayed as delivery services struggle to keep up. Customers are also pressured to buy sooner rather than later by the “get it while it’s gone mentality. This is because when companies are trying to meet supply with demand, they can sometimes fail to meet demand. The fact that you can only sell Christmas items in the run-up to Christmas can result in brands underestimating sales, so many seasonal products disappear from stock long before December 25th.
Aside from this, early shoppers can find themselves rewarded for their eagerness, with many brands offering incentives in order to drive sales in the early winter months. As the most capitalised winter holiday in the world, the majority of brands will put deals on toys, games, food, clothing, you name it and someone’s probably going to lower the price to make you try to buy it. And this is an aspect of Christmas shopping that I think everyone can get behind. I don’t think you have to celebrate Christmas to enjoy a discounted box of Cadbury’s celebrations!
It is clear from a business perspective why Christmas comes so early nowadays. With companies doing what they are designed to do and trying to encourage sales in any way they can. As such, when Christmas comes, it can quickly become the most expensive time of the year for those that celebrate it. With all of this corporate bidding for your attention, it can begin to feel a bit like a soulless wave of marketing pieces, adverts and deals fill the shops, resting between each and every decoration.
So what’s my advice for how to put the Christmas back into Christmas shopping now that the corporate Christmas season is upon us? Make it an event. Go to a Christmas market, go somewhere new and look for something interesting! And buy thoughtful, not big. Focus on the spirit of giving and the message of generosity rather than the high-priced excess our corporate overlords push upon us every year. And there’s nothing wrong with going cheap for Christmas, because no holiday should ever be about spending excessive sums of money. After all, it’s not the quality of crackers that makes Christmas dinner with the family memorable. With that in mind, take it easy as you prepare for this winter season, and whatever you celebrate, make sure to enjoy it with those you love!
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Thanks for reading!
Oliver is a writer and journalist who loves fantasy fiction and table top gaming, with a bit of acting on the side!