When Should Retailers Set Up Christmas Decorations? And When Do You Plan to Finish Your Shopping?

by Jay Waters

The holidays are upon us and we turned to our Family Panel to answer the most important question in retailing – when should stores put up their Christmas decorations?

If you look at this data and then go out shopping this weekend, you’ll see there’s a pretty big disconnect between shoppers and merchants when it comes to getting decorations up.

We turned to moms and dads across the country for their opinions, and the chart below outlines their thoughts:

83% of our respondents think that Christmas decorations shouldn’t go up until the Monday of Thanksgiving week, or later. Almost half think that Christmas decorations shouldn’t go up before Thanksgiving. A very limited number of parents – 7.8% – are OK with decorations after Halloween, which seems to be the date that many retailers begin to get into the season. And then there are 1.3% who believe “every day should be Christmas.” They are OK if decorations go up anytime after Labor Day.

The interesting thing is that the attitude about early decorations speeding up the Christmas season doesn’t seem to mesh with customers’ shopping plans. In the same survey, we asked parents for the date they expected to have 90% of their Christmas shopping done.

Overall, about 23% of consumers thought they would have all of their shopping done prior to Thanksgiving, and 10% prior to Halloween. The biggest groups of consumers – 39.1% – said that they would be done by December 11 (two weeks prior to Christmas), with the remaining 24% not wrapping up until December 23. Only 2.4% of parents think they won’t have most of their Christmas shopping done by Christmas Eve.

As you dive down into the numbers, a couple of interesting points arise. A higher percentage of lower income households ($50K and below) plan on finishing their shopping early than $50K+ households (23.9% vs. 16.9%). But also note that 4.1% of $50K and lower households plan on waiting until Christmas Eve to finish up, as opposed to 1.2% of the $50K+ households. I believe both numbers reflect how lower income households manage their cash flow – some of them spread their purchases over a longer period of time, and other wait until they have enough cash for gift buying.

Note also the stereotype of the addled dad desperately doing last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve isn’t borne out in this study – only 0.7% of dads say that they won’t be done until Christmas Eve, while 3.9% of moms say they’ll be wrapping up on Christmas Eve. That could mean a couple of things: One, dads are just in denial that they’ll be through early, or two, moms recognize that there’s always another gift to pick up – maybe because dad forgot to get it.

More on the holidays in our next Family Panel post.

Jay Waters is SVP/Chief Strategy Officer at Luckie & Company. You can contact him by email or follow him on Twitter.

Photo credit: erewhon via Flickr

This entry was posted in Family Panel, Retail, Shopper Marketing. Bookmark the permalink.