December 4, 2021

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Has the Christmas Shopping Season Overtaken Halloween?

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The pandemic has further complicated matters. Supply-chain issues have spurred a fear of scarcity. Americans, many of whom celebrated a watered-down version of the holiday last year, are also eager to get the holidays started and make up for lost time.

“We knew our customers would want to come in earlier this year,” said Russ Patrick, a merchandise manager for Neiman Marcus, which began selling holiday goods — including fully decorated Christmas trees — in September. “There is a desire to make up for last year’s season that was very impacted by the pandemic.”

Discount retailers are also capitalizing on the supply-chain rush. “People are thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, the stores aren’t going to have product,’” said Bruce Levine, the chief merchandising officer at 99 Cents Only Stores, which is based in California. “This mind-set is making people want to shop early, and we wanted to take advantage of that.”

Before the pandemic, 99 Cents Only Stores would flip its displays from Halloween to Christmas on the night of Oct. 31. This year, it cleared out the Halloween goods in mid-October. “We are running 10 percent ahead of last year on sales,” Mr. Levine said. “We are projecting to do our biggest Christmas yet.”

Big Lots, another budget chain, put out Christmas lights and trees right after Labor Day. (Halloween goods were sold in July.) “Customers now know if they don’t get out there and shop early, they might not get what they want,” said Bruce Thorn, the company’s chief executive.

Not all retailers have moved up Christmas this year. Home Depot and Walmart are on the same schedule. One reason may be that not all consumers are happy with the supersized shopping season.

Joe Ramoni, 29, a YouTube creator from Philadelphia, went to his local Rite Aid and Target last week to shop for Halloween decorations, hoping to score some sales, but they were all gone and replaced with Christmas frills. “It seems like we are leapfrogging right from Halloween to Christmas because of the commercial value,” he said. “Isn’t there time for both?”

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