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Christmas come early

Isn't November too early to be thinking about Christmas? (Thumbnail credit Photo credit: Paparutzi)

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Last weekend, my flat spent hours in hard work carefully planning, preparing and poring over a tedious project: making our kitchen window look as gaudy, cheesy and utterly sickeningly festive as any good shop window at this time of year.

However, in the true spirit of Christmas, when other flats showed their festive cheer by also putting up decorations, I got competitive and bought tinsel, lights and long-lasting batteries.

Now, aside from questioning my dubious motives and alternative take on 'Christmas spirit', it's probably also worth pointing out to me that it is in fact November, and it was a month away from the day itself when I went shopping for Christmas decorations.

This raises the question, isn't November too early to be thinking about Christmas decorations?

Supermarkets are widely criticised for putting up Christmas stock even before Halloween, and the unmistakable lack of decorations across the University suggest a common feeling that November and Christmas are incompatible. Advent Calendars start on 1st December, not the penultimate week of November, Christmas scheduling on the telly starts even later on the weekend before, and even then, they'll be up for a few days only - a few mid-December days.

However, there is a reason beyond my sometimes worrying competitive streak that I went Christmas shopping in November.
It is hard to feel 'Christmassy' this far from, well, Christmas, and there's little interest in buying anything Christmas related, including decorations, even when bombarded by early advertising by businesses.

However, as the advent countdown goes on, everyone feels a little bit more like it's Christmas, and so Christmas buying jumps in mid-December.
The Centre for Retail Research reports that sales "jump by an average of 60% to an annual peak in December", and that this year, sales of decorations are expected to rise by 26% to an average of £24.94 per household compared to last year. Think of Oxford Street stampedes, the longer opening hours and the impossibility of shopping on Christmas Eve.

Economists like to say 'choice', and not just because it's a strangely satisfying word to say, but it's useful. Not many feel too thrilled about choosing between Christmas decorations - especially when some remind us of home - but more choice means a greater range of prices.

However, as I write, John Lewis is reporting a record £100m weekly turnover, with sales in the final week in November growing 11pc yearly according to the Telegraph this week. I am aware though that this edition will go to print as December starts, and if this is too late, I can only offer my apologies and maybe some spare baubles. If it's any consolation though, it is nearer to Christmas, and I'll have been knowing that for all my cheap Christmas lights, the lights of true Christmas are just too far away.

You can bet that I'll still be stockpiling earlier next year though.

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