Tis not the season to be jolly
Hands up everyone who has felt a prickly portion of jolly indignation at the sight of Christmas decorations and merchandise on display in stores this week. Yep, that’s most of us. Now hands up all those who have actually entered the store and purchased a specifically Christmassy item. Ha! Thought so. Just a couple of you, cowering at the back.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of a little forward planning and picking up that certain something for Aunt Agatha when you happen to see it in October – after all, I was the one who smugly blitzed Toys r Us in the beginning of November many moons ago, and then spent the next 8 weeks holding my breath as my 5 year-olds revised their wish lists and shifted their priorities in accordance with the latest mailbox catalogues. Ultimately, incidentally, the magnetic powers of pretty Princess Barbie, pink ponies and good ole reliable Ken saved the day.
But no, I’m talking about Christmas lights and decorations that are designed to enhance Christmas tableware, kitchenware – who buys all this Christmassy kitchenware? – socks, hats, sweaters, chocolates and all the other merchandise that stores feel within their rights to try and offload onto us in October.
Ahem, but isn’t Halloween up next? Not to mention Guy Fawkes Night in the UK, Thanksgiving in the US, and presumably a whole host of other special occasions in national calendars across the globe. I totally agree that some items need buying now, such as Christmas tapestry canvasses and plant bulbs, but in my apparently not-so-humble opinion, there should be some unwritten retailing rule that forbids full-on Christmas merchandising before mid-November. And hardcore Christmas decorations in stores and public places should be reserved for December. Disregarding the fact that many of us mere mortals are all Christmassed out by the time Santa loads his sleigh, it’s hard on children to be surrounded by premature Christmas and told there are 10 weeks, 70 sleeps, to go. And it can’t be much fun for the lonely to be reminded of Christmas every day for three months. I might even go so far as to suggest that it sounds like something the EU do-gooders could have poked their noses into by now, although God forbid that they start dragging another batch of recommendations and surveys in 24 languages around Europe on a regular basis. But I digress. EU antics are a whole other blog. And not a jolly one either.
However, while on my soapbox I may as well go for broke and take a shot at the seasonal retailing industry in general and the fashion industry in particular. Now please convert my upcoming rant to suit your own local seasonal calendar as this harangue is Europe-specific. What’s up with replacing winter garb with spring arrivals in January? Or offering kids’ snowsuits in August when a decent summer jacket is impossible to find? Why can’t I buy decent winter boots for children in February when there’s still a foot or two of snow on the ground? Kids grow and things get lost. Yes, these summer items have a rightful place in winter stores for those heading farther afield, but surely the majority of us are more interested in buying long johns than shorts in mid-winter? And some representatives of the food industry are no better. Our local bakery started selling Easter buns next to Christmas buns late last December, while the supermarket replaced Christmas drinks with new bottles bearing yellow labels with bunnies on.
I’m just grateful that Mother Nature has not jumped on this shifting seasons bandwagon in a bid to assimilate with mankind. I’d be pretty miffed if her leaves started falling from the trees in July, or snow fell in August. I wouldn’t want to need my shorts here in January.
So why are the stores always in such as hurry to rush on? Does it all come down to making that extra quick buck? Is it really that simple? I can honestly say that I would not buy less if Christmas, say, were confined to the traditional season of December through to New Year. I may well, in fact, be induced to spend more if a genuine sense of Christmas atmosphere and anticipation gripped the city – and me – in December without having worn stale during the now customary two-month run in period. And I strongly suspect that many other people feel this way too.
Maybe some year the retail industry representatives will have the collective Christmas balls to give waiting a whirl.
And maybe, just maybe, they’d be in for a very jolly Christmas surprise.