The reason for the season
The holiday season brings seasonal merchandise, increased shoppers and new perspectives on consumerism.
December 14, 2018
Weeks before Thanksgiving, retailers stock the shelves with merchandise for the holidays— Christmas to Kwanzaa. The New Dime Store gradually displays holiday merchandise with poinsettias, ornaments and home decor, explained owner and president Kimberly Harris.
They begin “putting things out for the holidays right after Halloween,” according to Harris.
According to marketing representative Julie Weeks, Indigo Wild has a similar approach to the holiday season. Indigo Wild’s business online and in-store retail ramps up during November. With stores displaying holiday merchandise earlier in the year, the term “holiday creep” has been coined to describe these retailers. Retailers like Harris have reasoning behind their strategies.
“People are spending the money and that means we are making money here at the store,” Harris explained.
STA social studies teacher Anne Papineau runs an Etsy store called Midtown Modern KC. She explained that consumerism has two sides to it.
“[Consumerism] generates profit for many small business owners, who rely upon the high sales to make it through much of the year,” Papineau said.
Indigo Wild, which sells products from natural soaps to detergents, also notices an increase in sales during the holidays, according to Weeks.
“The holiday season is definitely our busiest from a retail perspective, however because our items are everyday needs, we plan fun events and promotions for our ‘Zum Loveys’ year-round,” Weeks said.
Harris believes and understands the benefits of why consumers shop early.
“[Products are] not going to be there when they come back, right after Thanksgiving,” Harris explained.
Retailers and consumers like Papineau acknowledge that while holiday retail has benefits for both parties, there are also significant drawbacks. Papineau believes that seasonal shopping has caused a shift in the way the holiday season is observed.
“As big retailers began to co-opt the holiday during the 1950s and onward through mass advertising, Christmas has become much more product focused,” she said.
Harris also explained the downside to consumerism.
“People get wrapped in this ‘I have to buy this and do this for this person and I have to spend this much money on this person’ where I think you really don’t have to,” Harris said.
Papineau noticed that this change in shopping is also impacting relationships.
“We are seeing our family interactions becoming much more based upon physical gifts and the enormity of gift giving can put an economical strain on families,” Papineau said.
Harris said giving gifts can mean “something very simple for somebody and it means more than how much you spend.” Papineau also explained the importance of balancing consumerism by limiting orders she accepts as a retailer and as a consumer.
“I suggest setting limits with family about how many gifts to give…So this year, we are doing something different by going on a family vacation instead of giving gifts,” Papineau said.
Papineau explained her concern about consumerism during the holidays.
“We lose sight of the meaning of Christmas and the holiday season — to be fully present with loved ones and generous with those in need,” Papineau said. “This is something I fear we are increasingly losing sight of in American culture.”