(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
When is the official start of the holiday shopping season? For Costco, it already started. The bulk retailer launched its holiday-themed displays at multiple locations, as early as Labor Day. Several Sears, Home Depot and Macy's locations kicked off the season in September and Wal-Mart and J.C. Penny's will be sprinkling the holiday spirit through their stores by the end of this month.
But one retail chain won't give into to Christmas for more than a month. Nordstrom's department stores won't be rolling out the holiday decorations and fanfare until the day after Thanksgiving. It's a low-key policy they've carried out for as long as company spokesman, Colin Johnson, can remember. "It's our longstanding tradition that we wait until the day after Thanksgiving to unveil the holiday trim at all of our stores," Johnson told Yahoo! Shine. "We think it's important to celebrate each holiday on its own so we're doing it again this year. "
You can still find holiday-themed items in the home goods section. There's even an annual sale in early November that might ensnare seasonal shoppers. But the frosted wonderland effect that makes spending hundreds on gifts palatable, isn't employed until there's about four weeks left in the game.
"We try to be careful about not being over promotional," says Johnson. "Our customers appreciate it and it seems to work well for us."
It's a brave position to maintain in the current economic climate. If anything, more retailers are rolling back their holiday shopping festivities and starting earlier, in hopes of maximizing their sales this season.
Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers, calls the three to four month holiday shopping push from retailers, "the big window theory". The bigger the window of holiday shopping, the more reminders to customers that they need to stock up on gifts, the better the profits.
While it's not a sure thing, it has inspired an army of early bird consumers. At least 40 percent of Americans start their holiday shopping before Halloween, says the National Retail Federation.
But not everyone appreciates the head start. Three months of holiday shopping awareness campaigns can make even buttoned-up gift-givers feel like slackers. There may also be benefits for retailers to steer clear of the gift push for a little longer. Forgetting you have to buy for others may keep you shopping for yourself a little longer before the mad gift dash.
That's one practical theory behind the Nordstrom prescription. But according to Johnson, they keep up their one-at-atime holiday policy because their customers like it. As gifting pressure mounts a into a full a fledged frenzy, it is nice to know there's a safe haven from the holiday pressure. At least until December.