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Think the Black Friday hype started way too early this year? Consider the fact that Christmas, still six weeks away, has been marketed to consumers since mid-October. And while we're used to the usual premature Christmas ads, stores have gone a step further this year by serving up shipping deadlines in your shopping cart — in early November. "Christmas creep," it would seem, has made its way to the internet and is being served up at checkout.
Whenever you walk into a pharmacy to buy Halloween candy and are confronted with snowman-shaped chocolates and stockings, that's the Christmas creep. We can generally shrug off these visual cues and product displays, and sometimes the mid-October holiday tunes. But this year, certain online stores are already doing their best to remind you of the upcoming gift-giving season by way of Christmas shipping deadlines.
We're all accustomed to holiday shipping cutoffs, wherein retailers declare the last day they'll guarantee Christmas delivery. What you might not be accustomed to, however, is seeing that message displayed nearly a month and a half before the dates in question. For example, while checking a deal from Kmart on November 2, we were confronted by this in-cart message:
Need it by Christmas Eve? Order by 11:59pm (CST) 12/13 with Standard Shipping.
These messages are great for last-minute shopping, and they can sometimes make the difference between a happy and a tear-filled Christmas morning. But to run them in early November seems excessive. However, we found a similar message on Kmart's sister site, Sears, that recommended shoppers check their local shipping cutoff date. And lest you think the online Christmas creep has only hit these affiliated stores, we came across another such warning from L.L. Bean as well on November 5.
It's unlikely that customers genuinely feel concern about Christmas shipping deadlines pre-Black Friday. However, it is possible that the cutoff date tactic, at the very least, reminds people that the holidays — as well as unavoidable purchases — are on the horizon. This reminder certainly taps in to the concerns of any shopper who prefers to get any and all gift-buying "out of the way."
Regardless, Christmas delivery dates are ultimately useful information, even if they're appearing early in the season; we always prefer that retailers be exceedingly clear about shipping deadlines during the holidays. And compared to the full-on Christmas commercials we've been exposed to since just the second week of October (we're looking at you, Target!), an in-cart message seems relatively innocuous.
Sometimes though, you can't help but buy into the Christmas creep, as we discussed recently in an extra from the weekly podcast, which can be viewed below. Readers, what do you think of the Christmas creep? Does it annoy you to have retailers push the holiday so early? Have you ever "fallen victim" to early Christmas marketing? Sound off in the comments below.