You may be shocked to find this at stores already...

I am firmly convinced that most stores now regard October 1 as the official kick-off date for the holiday season.

Yesterday, my wife and I went to Denny's for dinner. I looked at the menu and couldn't help but notice that they've already made available holiday dishes and desserts -- and we haven't even celebrated Halloween yet!

I find it jarring to spot wreaths, turkey ornaments, and Christmas lights on display at stores like Walmart and Walgreens so early in the year. Retailers have coupled Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas together -- it's as if they comprise a "holiday quarter" that begins in October and ends in December.

I see both pros and cons to this approach. For one, consumers might find it convenient to purchase all their holiday decorations in one shot. What's more, they likely can take advantage of special offers that might otherwise not be available to them if the items were rolled out in separate months.

However, this speaks to how commercialized these holidays have become. I noticed the trend began to take shape during the recession (around 2008 or 2009), and I can only surmise that the strategy paid huge dividends for retailers and that's why they've stuck to it since.

I remember getting so excited as a kid after Thanksgiving, because it meant my family and I would soon putting up Christmas decorations at home. To be honest, though, I think seeing Christmas decorations this early on would temper my jubilation a bit. I doubt I'd be as excited about Christmas in early October as I would be in early December.

It's like seeing Valentine's Day items on shelves in December or Fourth of July stuff in May. It's just too early to really build excitement for these special occasions. People have too many things to do to be thinking that far in advance. Besides, the closer one is to the actual holiday, the easier it is to get in the spirit.

What's your take? Do you think it's a sound strategy to be making holiday items available for purchase this early?

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