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Already spotting Christmas decorations? Why holiday displays now come out so early

Known as Christmas Creeping, holiday decorations come out well ahead of the season.

WASHINGTON — At the end of summer, we were already being bombarded with talk of pumpkin spice lattes. 

Those lattes are barely warm and Halloween candy hasn't made it out of the wrapper, but already Christmas trees and ornaments are up for grabs. 

Retailers have already started marketing, advertising and selling holiday decorations at a time that seems oddly early. There's a name for this behavior: it's called the Christmas Creep.  According to Merriam Webster, Christmas Creep is defined as: 

"The gradual lengthening of the Christmas season with earlier displays of Christmas decorations and music, along with earlier holiday sales, advertising, and other displays of consumerism."  

Early Shoppers 

It turns out retailers may be taking their cues from people's shopping behavior. 

A survey conducted by market research company NPD found that 51% of consumers in America planned on doing holiday shopping before Thanksgiving.   That's slightly up from last year, the report found. 

Of those early shoppers, NPD found that the majority of them planned on buying gifts as early as October. 

“Holiday shopping has been on an earlier start trajectory since Thanksgiving Day store openings in 2014, and then further accelerated by last year’s pandemic shift of Amazon’s Prime Days to October and panic over shipping delays,” said Marshal Cohen,  chief retail industry advisor for NPD. 

“Holiday 2021 continues the early shopping trend, with the added layer of inventory concerns motivating many shoppers to grab what they want when they see it, instead of waiting for better deals later in the season, ” Cohen said in a statement on NPD's website. 

Apparently, some people are buying into the trend. In August, Home Depot offered a sneak peek of Halloween decorations online and management said it quickly sold out.  

"[We] just sold out of our sort of pre-release Halloween product almost immediately," said Home Depot President and Chief Operating Officer Ted Decker on an earnings conference call.  "So that's a very strong indication that people are still going to engage in decorating," Decker said. 

The Earlier, The Happier 

Here's an excuse to break the rules and decorate earlier: some experts believe that putting up holiday decorations earlier can make people happier. The British news outlet Unilad was among the first to report that putting up holiday decorations boosts the mood because it may bring back feelings of nostalgia.  Some experts also believe that putting up decorations may spike the happy hormone dopamine. 

 The Journal of Environmental Psychology also noted that holiday decorations are social cues for our neighbors. In a study, researchers found that people who were shown pictures of houses with holiday decorations perceived their neighbors to be more friendly and cohesive. 

The Social Buzz

Around the DMV, we got mixed reviews about early holiday shopping and decorations. 

On Facebook,  Jeff Embry from Laurel, Maryland wrote: "Yep they're already on display. As for me, let's get through Thanksgiving first".

"I first saw Christmas Decorations showing up the end of August," Peter Wilson wrote from Waldorf, Maryland. 

Paulette Creek from Huntingtown, Maryland added: "Love me some Christmas."

"I live northwest of Baltimore City and see a house already decorated," Chrysti Bowers Bason wrote. 

Meanwhile, Ron Emge said it doesn't really matter. "There are far more pressing things than a store having Christmas candy or decorations this early." 

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