When does Christmas start? When does Christmas end?

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When does Christmas start?
When does Christmas end?

‘Twas the night before Christmas… and all the stores were closed.

Why? They needed a few hours to get ready for the AFTER Christmas sale.

All of the retail elves were homewith the rest of us, anticipating the festival of unwrapping andjudging the value and likeability (return-ability) of presents received.

The holiday season is a make-it-or-break-it time for most retailers and many businesses.

Is it my imagination, or is theChristmas “season” expanding? Remember when there was the excitementthat the shopping season officially began “the day after Thanksgiving”– unofficially known as “black Friday.”

The day AFTER Thanksgiving, storesopening at 8am — then 7am — then 6am — then 5am — then midnight. Tryingto lure customers with the size, discount, and their “pre-Christmas”sale. Then, based on social pressures, most were changed to”pre-holiday” extravaganzas.

EARLY WARNING SIGNAL: I’m sure you’venoticed (as I have) that there are now Christmas items among theHalloween candies. In the drug stores, the card shops, the grocerystores, and even the department stores. Merchants are trying to remindyou and sell you, whatever they can, before the competition does.

Even online, companies likeAmazon.com had their seasonal art on landing pages by Halloween. Boo!(That wasn’t to scare you. That was “the Philadelphia Boo!” The voiceof disapproval. The “What were you thinking?” boo. The angry boo. Theboo-hiss.)

I don’t know about you, but I believebusiness greed is stepping over the line introducing the spirit of theholiday season before candy is handed to little ghosts and goblins, orbefore families gather to give thanks for our freedom, and for eachother.

Seems as though businesses are willing to risk ridicule and reputation for a chance to ring their cash register.

Now while none of this is really abig deal, be aware that when some retailer wanting to jump the guntries to pull off Christmas in October — or earlier — it generatesthoughts in the mind of the consumer — none of them positive. And thosethoughts lead to perceptions and buying decisions.

If I’m put off or angry at your early entry into the Christmas season, I may not return to buy when the actual season starts.

And then there are those whotry to down the competition in a subtle way. I saw a sign in the windowof a major department store that startled me. It saidthat they like to celebrate one holiday at a time, and that they wouldnot be putting up any Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving.

GREAT — but, eh, why are they telling me that? Why don’t they just DO IT?

Myconcept of what will win is go back a decade, look at what won then,add the Internet and email messaging, create a stock of inventory ofWHAT PEOPLE WANT — not just what you buy cheap and are looking to sellat a great margin — and let one customer tell another customer howgreat your merchandise is.

Onemore thing — HIRE GREAT PEOPLE — people who smile, love to serve, canmultitask, can go the extra mile, and who have a base intelligence thatis smarter than the merchandise.

Thiswill require that you pay them more — train them more — and provide awork atmosphere that both employees AND customers love. This also meanshappy, not condescending, managers.

Thesign in the department store window was right: ONE HOLIDAY AT A TIME.Hey, Mr. retailer — you’re the ones who created the purchasing part ofthese holidays in the first place.

Myvote is give thanks for what you have at Thanksgiving, celebrate yourblessings with your family, and THEN sell like hell the day after –until 5pm on Christmas Eve.

Thatstrategy would please your customers, create word of mouth advertisingto complement your traditional marketing outreach, and even please thepanicked shareholders, once the numbers begin to emerge.

Isaw a t-shirt the other day that said: Let’s keep the X in XMAS. It’s asign of the times, and a resign of the consumer at the same time. Ifyou want the holiday recipe for success, take the formula above and addspirit.

If you do, the jingle bells you’ll hear will be the cha-ching! of the cash register.

Ifyou’re looking for a couple of holiday greetings for your business orstorefront to make your customers happy or ready to buy, go towww.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first-time visitor, and enter theword GREETING in the GitBit box.

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KING OF SALES, The author of twelve best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His real-world ideas and content are also available as online courses at www.GitomerLearningAcademy.com.

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