It's October and store shelves are stocked with werewolf masks, Spider-Man costumes and Santa figurines.
Santa? In October?
Yep, the "Christmas creep" has retailers displaying holiday merchandise earlier and earlier as they battle to win a share of deal-seeking customers' dollars.
"Early is an understatement," said Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based retail consultant. "I was shocked to see in mid-September that Walmart already had Christmas merchandise."
Retailers once traditionally stocked Christmas decor and gifts after Halloween, but they keep shifting earlier. Shoppers seem to either love it or hate it, with some consumers passionately denouncing the reindeer mixing with ghosts and goblins.
"I think it's gotten out of hand," said Angelica Terlikas of Fresno at The Shops at River Park last week. "It's in your face. ... It's a lot of pressure. You don't get to enjoy the fall."
The early Christmas trend was inspired by early shoppers, said National Retail Federation spokeswoman Kathy Grannis.
Thirty-nine percent of shoppers said they will start their holiday shopping before Halloween this year, according to a BIGresearch survey commissioned by the NRF.
"They refuse to have picked-through ornaments and tree skirts," Grannis said. "These are likely the people who on Dec. 26 go to stores with a list in hand, looking for affordable gift ideas for the next holiday season."
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