"We really wanted to create that sense of excitement, that sense of urgency," said Target spokeswoman Molly Hanus.
Retailers pushed Christmas promotions as early as September during the recession as they competed for shoppers' dwindling dollars and tried to get them back into stores. Some recession-weary shoppers have been glad to spread out the cost of the holidays, especially if discounts average 40 percent like Target's. But others may be turned off by the snowflakes and Santas and glitz. And stores are divided as well.
"It's smarter to buy this early," said Ebony Rios, a 17-year-old high school student shopping over the weekend at Toys R Us in Times Square, where a Santa in sunglasses lounged in a swimming pool in one ad. The Clayton, N.C., resident — who said she spent $200 on her nieces and nephews at the store's online summer sale last year — plans to take advantage again this year.
But Tammy Perez, 28, from Bloomington, Ind., wasn't ready.
"It's too hot to think about Christmas," said the administrative assistant, also at Toys R Us Sunday. "The earliest I will shop will be in October."
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