How early is “too early” for holiday merchandising?

There is a market for early gift shopping, and it’s a good way to drive business (especially in apparel) when the weather gods conspire against sales of sweaters, coats and scarves. The question seems to be when and how to promote “holiday” in terms of advertising, e-commerce and in-store decor. Most consumers seem to have an aversion to seeing stores talking “holiday” until after Halloween, but once November 1st rolls around the gloves can come off. (After all, retailers have about six weeks to drive the majority of the year’s profits…and some regions of the country will be affected by very early Hanukkah timing.)The trick is to sell seasonal apparel and gifts early without appearing to push the calendar too much.

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