Metro stores, shoppers already in the Christmas spirit

Kyla Smith
The Detroit News

The Halloween candy wrappers and jack-o-lanterns have barely made it into the trash, and Santa Claus is already coming to town.

Doorbuster deals are being promoted and holiday commercials are blaring from televisions. It seems as though Christmas is creeping up earlier than ever, which begs the question: How soon is too soon to start preparing for the holiday season?

Kelli White of Ann Arbor started her Christmas shopping in October. On Thursday afternoon, White took her grandchildren, Ryan, 6, and London 2, to visit Santa Claus at Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor.

“We are early birds in our house. I started picking up gifts when I went to Chicago last month and now I’m just about done,” White said. “When you start your shopping early, you can really enjoy and not have to worry about crowds or not finding the right items.”

Briarwood is not the only place to jump into the Christmas spirit: Southland, Oakland, Great Lakes Crossing and Twelve Oaks malls had welcomed Santa by Friday.

“People have stopped me and asked why Santa Claus is here so early, but I tell them, he always arrives the same time every year, the first week of November. I think with it being 60 degrees in November it’s throwing everyone off,” said Denise J. Murray, director of marketing and business at Briarwood Mall. “No matter what the weather is, it’s never too early for the holiday season.”

Each year, retailers begin revealing early deals in an effort to outdo their competition. Amazon started July 15 with “Prime Day,” promising deals better than Black Friday. Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target leaked pre-Black Friday ads last week.

Mike Bernacchi, a marketing and business professor at the University of Detroit Mercy, believes retailers are trying to pattern their holiday shopping season after the movie industry.

“The Christmas movie season usually starts Nov. 1 and lasts all through December. This year, we first started seeing shopping deals pop up in late August and as early as September, the same time you would see holiday movie previews,” Bernacchi said. “Retail advertising is redefining how people shop and view the holidays.”

Bernacchi estimates about 15 percent of holiday shoppers will complete their Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving and 10 percent of holiday shoppers will do it online.

Briarwood’s Murray, not surprisingly, has a low opinion of online holiday shopping.

“A person can buy all of their gifts online in less than five minutes and then what?” Murray said. “You miss out on the people-watching and the experience. You can’t get that online. This is a magical time that should be treasured.”

Still, there are the traditionalists like Robert Stubbs of Roseville, who starts his shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

“I like to have all of my Christmas shopping done by Dec. 10. I beat all of the last-minute shoppers,” Stubbs said. “Now it’s too early for Christmas songs and shopping. It waters down the season. By the time Christmas comes, people are not in the spirit and it doesn’t have the same effect.”

Retail stores are not the only ones diving into the Christmas spirit. WNIC-FM (100.3), an adult contemporary station, started its rotation of holiday songs Monday.

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