RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s still flip-flop weather, but you wouldn’t know it today if you go inside most stores. Halloween decorations have been on shelves for weeks and we’re also seeing Christmas stuff being put out, too. Turns out, there’s a method to this madness.
Dr. Jadrian Wooten, an associate professor of economics at Virginia Tech, says it’s all done deliberately.
“In Economics, it’s just Game Theory. It’s this play between companies and stores. So, one company puts their stuff out — they kind of capture all of those people looking for early deals, buying it to stock up,” he said.
Competitors don’t want to lose out, so each year stores push the envelope, and push out their inventory earlier and earlier.
Wooten said it also makes more economic sense to have longer holiday sales instead of beefing up inventory and staff for short periods of time.
Halloween is big business. The National Retail Federation estimates Americans spend around $10 billion for the holiday. That’s ahead of the Fourth of July, St. Patrick’s Day and the Super Bowl.
Wooten said these holiday sales could be a promising sign as economists look to curb inflation.
“If people are purchasing holiday items that is usually a sign of consumer confidence that we actually have the money, that we can spend it on those things instead. So, it’s usually a really good signal.”
But don’t expect Halloween sales year-round.
“That retail space is very valuable. And so, you have to sort of adjust to thinking about how much space do I dedicate towards Halloween verses, you know, when do I put my Christmas stuff out?”
In recent years, we’ve seen trends of stores publicly taking a stand against this practice. For example, in 2015 Nordstrom announced it would only put out Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving.
Wooten said not all stores can have that ability.
“I think if you’re a specialty store, you sell some sort of luxury item, something that’s unique, you can get away with waiting. I think if you’re in a really competitive market, I don’t think you have that opportunity.”
So whether you like seeing holiday decorations on the shelves now, or not — Wooten says it’s ultimately a sign of a healthy economy.