Holiday Central

Those super early holiday ads: We have ourselves to blame

Shopping for retail winners
Shopping for retail winners

Yes, we all complain about the increasingly earlier start to the holiday season, especially all those commercials on TV. Big advertisers don't wait for Thanksgiving, or even Halloween, before pestering and peppering us with their offerings of excited offers, deals, discounts and sales on this season's hottest gifts.

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We always blame the companies. They are an easy scapegoat. "Why do they do this? Why are they advertising so early in the year?"

Holiday shopping by the numbers
Holiday shopping by the numbers

Well, the answer is because we, the consuming public, encourage them by starting our own holiday shopping adventures early each year. If anything, the companies are giving us a break by waiting as long as they do, because we're already searching for holiday information in September, barely a few days after Labor Day.

According to data from retail site Polyvore, consumer interest for Christmas-related products started months ago. And in recent years, our behavior has been getting worse: In 2014, consumer searches began a month earlier than last year.

Beginning of Christmas-season retail searches:
2012: Oct. 27
2013: Oct. 23
2014: Sept. 28

The data is based on Polyvore's 20 million monthly unique users. Here's the relevant search data from 2012 to 2014: you can see the spikes in October.

The full push has already begun before Halloween. That's why it makes sense for retailers to begin their ad push weeks before Thanksgiving.

And this year, we easily see the September spike making itself known.

The earlier start to the shopping season means each individual day has less importance overall. A single Black Friday and a single Cyber Monday mattered a lot more in the quaint world when consumers only spent 30 days shopping. Now that they spend almost 90 days shopping for the holidays, the effect of each day matters less. It's one reason to remember that despite recent weak retail numbers on specific days, the longer season might be making up for it. A true comparison would take the entire fourth quarter into consideration.

There may be no turning back the trend. Consumers are increasingly more interested in the holidays sooner, despite what we will admit to our friends and family.

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So instead of blaming companies for advertising so soon, consider thanking them for waiting as long as they do before bombarding us with their ads. It's not their fault they're advertising so early; it's ours. They're just giving the public what it wants. The next time you complain about an early Christmas ad, look around you, or in the mirror.