Nov 102004
Authors: Daniel Hallford

Pam Kleckner glanced over the items at Super Wal-Mart, 1250 E.

Magnolia St.

Her shopping cart was empty, but her eyes were fixated on the

singing 4-foot-tall bear in a complete Santa costume. Standing next

to the bear was a mechanical Santa about the same size.

“If I had my way, I’d get one of each,” she said. “This is my

favorite time of the year. I love to see all this stuff.”

Shoppers roamed through more than 15 aisles of Christmas

d�cor and gift-giving cheer that seemed to have invaded the

east corner of the shopping center. Christmas trees and talking

Santas competed for floor space, and stockers swung their loads of

fresh merchandise out onto the floor, making room for more


Fort Collins resident Tiffany White was looking over the

Christmas apparel Tuesday evening at Wal-Mart.

“I can’t believe it’s started this early,” she said.

Whether or not consumers are ready for the holidays, retailers


“Our stores begin carrying holiday seasonal merchandise as early

as September because we’ve found that customers are wanting to

begin their shopping that early,” said Karen Burk, public relations

correspondent for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The October, November and December months are a big part of the

year, said Melissa Allen, store manager at Hobby Lobby, 4106 S.

College Ave. She said the decision as to when stores put out their

merchandise is made at the corporate level.

The holidays are undoubtedly the biggest spending time of the

year and Allen said it increases Hobby Lobby’s sales.

“The holiday season definitely helps out a lot,” she said.

Tom Ingram, a CSU marketing professor, agreed.

“Stores have to get (their merchandise) early or shoppers won’t

consider them a private source for Christmas,” Ingram said.

“There’s a huge pressure to perform and as the downturn of the

economy has become prolonged, the market has also become more


He said consumers are racing to get everything done around the


“They are thinking about all they need to get done before

Christmas, and people want the holidays to be a time of relaxation.

One way of doing that is to get the shopping done early,” Ingram


With the cheer of the holidays, consumers sometimes spend

excessively, Allen said.

“The more mature majority of people who have been through and

learned the error of their ways don’t make the mistake (of

overspending),” he said.

However, some shoppers can’t wait for the season of giving to


“There’s a huge yearning for the comfort of the holidays,”

Ingram said.

Allen said because many people make their own holiday gifts,

Hobby Lobby puts out its holiday supplies earlier. Wal-Mart does

the same.

“We know that crafters need to start their projects early so

you’re going to see holiday craft items such as fabrics in our

stores fairly early,” Burk said.

Burk said Christmas items show up early so Wal-Mart can cater to

the needs of its customers.

However, Wal-Mart customer and Fort Collins resident Julie Ellis

said the availability of Christmas items comes a little too early

for her taste.

“It’s cute, but it’s still too early,” Ellis said as she held up

a stuffed dog in a Santa hat. “I think they should let you have

Thanksgiving. Now you lose Thanksgiving because they push Christmas

on you.”

Austin McKenna, sophomore business finance major, said the

Christmas cheer is good for people who like to get their holiday

shopping done early.

“There’s always those people who get things done early, but it’s

a little weird that it’s not even Thanksgiving and they have

Christmas stuff up already,” McKenna said.

Almost like the chicken or the egg scenario, whether the

consumer buys the Christmas items because they are on the shelves

or if the store provides the Christmas apparel because of consumer

demand is still unclear.

“As a consumer, it’s puzzling to me,” Ingram said. “Once the

cycle starts, it’s hard to stop.”

Joanna Larez contributed to this story.

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