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Black Friday Creep: The Backlash Begins

Friday, 11 Nov 2011 | 1:41 PM ET

Retailers will claim they're only trying to serve the consumer as they deck their halls earlier and earlier each year, and begin Black Friday sales at earlier start times, but some consumers seem to be saying, "Enough Already" to Christmas Creep.

Nordstrom one holiday at a time sign
Source: to-the-manner-born.blogspot.com
Nordstrom one holiday at a time sign

At least that's the message I'm getting from all the reaction to Nordstrom's "one holiday at a time" policy.

The policy is not new, but on social media sites such as Facebook, the retailer is getting newfound attention for it.

Many people are posting images of Nordstrom signs that explain why the company doesn't roll out its holiday trim until after Thanksgiving day. Some of the images, which are popping up in Facebook feeds and in blogs, are even from past years, judging from the dates mentioned on the signs.

One says: "Happiness is celebrating one holiday at a time. That's why you won't find any holiday trim in our stores until after Thanksgiving day. So relax. Reminisce. Enjoy the day as we will — with family and friends. Then when Friday, November 25 rolls around feel free to stop by for a bit of good cheer. It's then we'll be decked in our holiday finery — and eager to welcome the season with you."

It's a message that stands out when you hear more and more retailers announcing that they are opening their stores at midnight on Friday, or in the case of Wal-Mart Stores , at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, for the annual frenzy of Black Friday sales.

And, to be clear, the posts about Nordstrom's policy seem to be universally welcomed and cheered.

If you glance at the retailer's own Facebook page, you'll read comments such as "Nordstrom Execs~ I cannot tell you how happy I am that you are Showing Some Reason in the Season," and "Decking the halls after Thanksgiving is AWESOME. God bless you for keeping the holidays magic for us!!!!"

Nordstrom spokesman Colin Johnson said that the policy isn't anything new and the retailer isn't making any new push to market it.

"This is the long-standing tradition," Johnson said. It also is part of "the rhythm of our business," he said, explaining that the retailer is currently conducting one of its big, annual sales events for women's and children's clothing.

But other retailers have been pushing the holidays earlier and earlier, looking to ensure that they won't miss out on sales during a year when analysts, on average, are forecasting holiday spending to be up only about 2 percent to 3 percent from last year.

Betting on the Consumer
Consumer sentiment is at its highest level in five months, with Richard Hastings, Global Hunter Securities, and Anthony Chukumba, BB&T Capital Markets.

One reason is that some consumers are stretching out their holiday shopping so that they can budget their spending or take advantage of layaway programs. According to retail industry trade group, the National Retail Federation, about 40 percent of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween.

That trend has been backed up by other surveys. A telephone survey conducted among 1,000 U.S. adults by Ipsos Public Affairs and commissioned by Offers.com, found that almost half of all shoppers have been looking for deals throughout the year while they are shopping for those on their holiday gift list.

That's why retailers have been dangling Black Friday-style deals in front of consumers for weeks.

But one other survey found that the overwhelming majority of Americans don't plan on shopping during Black Friday, which last year was the busiest shopping day of the year. That poll was conducted last week by Harris Interactive for online retailer Ebates.

That survey, which polled 2,429 adults aged 18 years old or older, found about 87 percent of Americans don't buy the majority of their gifts during the Thanksgiving weekend. Instead, the majority, about 51 percent, shop during December. About 10 percent wait until the week before Christmas and about 1 percent actually buy their gifts after Christmas.

And this may be a good year to wait, according to Siva Kumar, CEO of TheFind.com. There is a dearth of must-have gifts this holiday season, and that means shoppers can afford to wait, he said. If they wait, retailers will get nervous and begin cutting prices.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com. Follow Christina Cheddar Berk on Twitter @ccheddarberk.

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