Q: ARE RETAILERS STILL PUTTING UP CHRISTMAS DISPLAYS EVER EARLIER?
A: We used to consider stores jumping the gun if they did it before Thanksgiving. Now they seem to start closer to Halloween. But there's little uniformity. Marshall Field's reports its holiday decorations went up chain-wide on the first weekend in November, a la the past 50 years. Bloomingdale's followed two weeks later, same as last year (but its New York flagship decorated a week later than in '02). Many Mag Mile mainstays waited until the Festival of Lights parade on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. And Nordstrom's brags that it waits untill the day after Thanksgiving.
Nationally, most stores started their holiday decorating on Nov. 1, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. "That's been pretty consistent for the past five years," said a spokesman. But Russell Salzman, president of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Assn., says the long-term trend has stores inching into October. "I'm sensing stores are looking to extend the holiday shopping season," he says. "Over the past 10 years, decorations have been going up earlier and coming down later." Longer or not, this holiday season is expected to bring a 5 percent jump in spending over last year, according to the National Retail Federation. That would lighten our wallets by more than $217 billion.
My column on Christmas Web sites