September Christmas displays are here, and they are fucking terrible. No, no, no, no, no, no. Mid-September is not motherfucking holiday shopping season.
Mid-September is overzealous sweater season, maybe. It's making fun of Pumpkin Spice lattes and then getting Pumpkin Spice lattes anyway season. It's college football season, it's closed toe shoes season, it's election season, it's back to school season.
It's not fucking Christmas season. It's not Hanukkah season. It is not Kwanzaa season. It is not Saturnalia season. But nobody told greedy retailers that.
Earlier this month, KMart was rightfully criticized for trying to get away with running an ad for holiday shopping before the autumn equinox. One might think that sort of negative consumer reaction would stop other retailers from following suit, en masse, just two weeks later. One would be wrong.
Over the last couple of weeks, people — aghast people — have been whispering about how some store or the other is carrying Christmas supplies. My mom has been going on about the local big box farm and garden supply store quietly decorating its central aisle like Santa's goddamn workshop like people weren't going to notice. These decorations? These blinking lights strewn amongst the faux evergreens? They've always been here! But I didn't believe her, because I didn't want to believe her. And then there was the friend who lives in Oklahoma, posting on Facebook about a local store irking residents with a late summer Yuletide push. I didn't believe it because I didn't want to believe it. Oklahoma might not be a real place! I told myself. I've never even been there!
But there were news stories beyond deniable hearsay as well. Local news stories chirping about how there's only 100 days of shopping left until the day we've agreed to pretend is the anniversary of Jesus's birth. Gothamist sent an actual person into the 34th St. Macy's, where they actually took pictures of the eager Christmas display standing there on the 9th floor, as insistent and unwanted as an erection during a middle school math test.
Then there's this troubling bit of copy from Detroit:
"The consumer today is just fanatical about saving money," said Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, a consumer behavior and retail strategy firm. "I think you're going to see more retailers jump into the sale strategy. I think they're going to be more aggressive and you may see bigger discounts earlier."
They want our money, are desperate they are to pull up those Q4 numbers, and craven about the means to which they're willing to resort. Mark my words: retailers are trying to quietly make early September an acceptable jumping off point for Christmas shopping season. One day we'll wake up and realize we've been living in it for years, even though we never would have asked for it.
Even so, retailers are insisting that Christmas all the time is what we really want.
Simply put, said Michael Bernacchi, a University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor: "You can't have profit if you don't have shoppers in the stores. You have to draw clientele. You have to get them online and get them in line. You have to get them."
You have to get them.
You have to get them.
Not a single person who isn't an unhinged ornament-collecting grandmother living in Arizona thinks this is a good idea. If you asked 100 people if they believed that we should be made to wander through Christmas displays and listen to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite while animated Ritz crackers dance on our TV screens before we turn our clocks back for Fall, they'd all say no. Hell, there are still public swimming pools that are open right now. This is fucking sacrilege.
But Americans are about as good at resisting a sale as they are at resisting blaming crime on immigrants, and so unless someone's got some Dr. Seussian idea for eradicating consumerism from American culture, this is our new reality.
They'll keep chipping away at us until we're tired of being angry, and then tired of being irritated.
Soon, we'll all passively accept the fact that the first day of Christmas shopping season is September 11.
Never forget... the reason for the season.
Image via Studio Barcelona/Shutterstock