People used to joke about Christmas decorations going up before Halloween, but now some stores are starting to promote holiday deals just as back-to-school season is ending. In addition to the fact that seeing tree ornaments and dreidels next to pumpkins and candy corn is emotionally disturbing, this year people seem to be more sensitive to the plight of the working class. Retailers are aware that people are upset about employees being forced to forego pumpkin pie to man their store on Thanksgiving night, and while they may find public concern adorable, they aren't going to do anything about it.
The holiday season now extends to about a quarter of the year, but experts tell MSNBC that the so-called "Christmas creep" will probably only get worse in the coming years. Ted Marzilli, global managing director of BrandIndex, says, "Until there are really people outside stores picketing I don't think the trend will abate, and I don't think there's a whole lot of downside for the retailers." It's unclear if gimmicks like starting Black Friday sales a day early actually work, but in this economy retailers are desperate to try anything. Their aim isn't actually to get people to buy more gifts (though, they'd be happy if parents forgot where they stashed the toys they bought in October and were forced to restock Santa's bag). Companies know that particularly now, families have a fixed budget for gifts, and they're hoping to snatch business away from competitors by offering a low price earlier in the season. Marzilli explains, "If the retailer can get some people thinking about Christmas sooner than they otherwise would … then (they've) locked up the $10 or $20 or $50 or $100 that the consumer was going to spend."
Though a Target employee's Change.org petition against the store scheduling shifts that start at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving now has more than 97,000 signatures, experts are predicting that Black Friday sales will be bigger than ever this year. Even if a few hundred thousand people protest the earlier opening times by spending time with loved ones rather than hunting down items on their wish lists, it's unlikely to make an impact. Even if you could rally together a few friends to occupy a Target parking lot, the majority of Americans still prefer to grumble about the holidays starting too early while waiting on line with a discounted Blu-ray player under their arm.