How many shopping days are left?

Averi Wagner, 5, left, introduces her sister, Ansley, 2, to Santa Claus on Friday night at the tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Grand Junction. The girls were the first of hundreds of children who came to see Santa.

Downtown turned on its Christmas lights Friday, Santa has been at Mesa Mall for a week, and holiday decorations and merchandise have been on store shelves since Halloween, or in some cases longer.

Thanksgiving is as early as it gets this year, giving shoppers a longer stretch to collect presents between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. But that hasn’t stopped retailers from celebrating the holidays well before Turkey Day.

This year in particular, the holiday shopping season seems to have started early, according to Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Diane Schwenke said. It’s no wonder, she said, given some stores make 40 to 50 percent of their annual sales during the holiday shopping season.

“It’s always important, this season, regardless of the size of the retailer,” Schwenke said.

Downtown Grand Junction moved its annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony from Black Friday to the Friday before Thanksgiving last year and did the same this year. Downtown Development Authority Marketing Director Kathy Dirks said the move was well-received by retailers.

“All of a sudden, downtown for the holidays was on shoppers’ radar. I think it brings that up front in people’s minds,” Dirks said, adding downtown stores “have been getting ready earlier to take advantage of every retail day they can.”

Saturdays are the busiest day of the week this time of year, according to Mesa Mall Marketing Manager Jammie McCloud. Having a fourth Saturday in December should help sales, she said. But some shoppers are ready to start early.

“I think it’s consumer-driven,” she said of having holiday items out now. “Retailers wouldn’t put the holiday decor up and put the sales out if people weren’t shopping.”

The National Retail Federation found more than half of shoppers had started their holiday shopping by the time they took a consumer survey Nov. 1–8. The portion of early shoppers increased 2.5 percentage points compared to the same period last year.

An early buy is appreciated but not always the expected outcome when retailers put out decor a day or two after Halloween, as Culinary Corner at 455 Main St. did this year.

Culinary Corner co-owner Beth Zanski said the store originally put out decorations and holiday merchandise in early November to keep up with larger retailers in Mesa Mall who put those items out as early as September.

The shop moved out of the mall and into its downtown location this year.

Zanski said there is less pressure to get holiday items out early downtown in the new location, but it does help pick up traffic.

“We don’t necessarily put Christmas stuff out to sell it right now. It gets people in the spirit,” Zanski said.

Christmas music also puts people in the spirit and gets them in a spending-friendly mood, she added.

The Christmas music won’t start down the street at Toys for the Fun of It, 519 Main St., until Dec. 1.

Mike Allen, co-owner of the toy store, said he personally loves Christmas and the sales revenue it brings, “but I don’t see any reason to make it longer and longer.”

Allen said he doesn’t know whether it hurts sales to wait until this weekend to put out his Christmas decorations, but he said he has done well enough in the past to keep going with his wish to acknowledge each holiday one at a time.

“The over-commercialization of holidays is starting to honk people off,” he said.

Beth Winder said Thursday while shopping at Target with her future mother-in-law, Jo Ellen McIntyre, that she feels having Halloween and Christmas candy out at the same time and other, similar trends “seems kind of pushy.”

McIntyre said she used to look forward to different holidays as a child and doesn’t like it when stores blend them together.

“Anymore, you can’t get a break between them. Right after Christmas they put out the Valentine’s Day stuff,” McIntyre said.


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