Christmas creep — it’s the Christmas season stretched out to include the whole 4th quarter, all of autumn. The phrase has been around since the 1970s, when consumers (and we are all consumers in this story, not just people) started seeing Christmas stuff and Christmas sales appear at retailers before Halloween. Sometimes “White Christmas” came on right after the Back to School sales ended. It’s become common to hear Christmas music at the department store while they were putting away the skeletons and jack o’lantern decorations. This year Target has said its customers are tired of it — discerning Target customers want some real, natural boundaries on the Christmas season. Say, Black Friday to Boxing Day — okay? No “Jingle Bells” on the sound system before Thanksgiving — got it?
“They want us to pause, and be really intentional and recognize Thanksgiving,” said Rick Gomez, Target’s chief marketing officer, told Anne D’Innocenzio at AP. Target says it’s complying with customer wishes — and it’s using the opportunity to promote its grocery business. Thanksgiving is, after all, all about the food. But meanwhile Target’s competitors will be selling Christmas gifts and supplies to the same consumers who complain about Christmas creep out of the other sides of their mouths. Can Target do the right thing and still compete? Because history says very clearly that what people say they want and what they really want are often at odds. Sales will tell the story.