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Santa put on overtime

30 September 2013 - 02:04 By NIVASHNI NAIR

It's beginning to look like Christmas . and it's only September.

Retailer Woolworths is already stocking its shelves with Christmas merchandise and Shoprite has brought out the fake holly and red ribbon bows, much to the ire of many consumers.

Two weeks ago, US consumers saw red when Kmart put out a festive season advertisement more than 100 days before Christmas.

"Woolworths! It's only September. I can't take on the pressure of Christmas shopping now," Charlotte Ross wrote on her Facebook page.

Indrani Naicker wrote: "I see Santa chocolates, sugar canes and gingerbread men in September and I think to myself, how ridiculous, Woolworths."

Debby Bonnin said it was "tiresome" that retailers used every opportunity - whether at Christmas, Mother's Day or Easter - to market their products.

"Christmas is three months away and we already have sweets with Christmas wrappers, Christmas puddings and cakes at Woolworths. This promotion of consumerism removes the sense of wonder and excitement from children; it helps associate these holidays with consumerism and not cultural beliefs.

"It makes their 'everyday' ordinary. Today the marshmallow eggs are in Easter paper, tomorrow in Christmas paper. Where does the 'something special' come in?" she said.

But Woolworths has defended its decision to roll out its festive season stock.

"Most of our festive catalogue and decor will arrive in our stores only in late November. However, to accommodate customers who prefer to shop early, we phase in our festive catalogue from September."

Noah Capital Markets' retail analyst Roger Tejwani said many stores want to be the first to roll out Christmas goods to beat their competitors.

Tejwani said that, traditionally, Christmas stocks arrived in stores in November but "retailing was getting faster".

He said the festive season was the most important trading period for retail stores.

"Every event is being advertised and marketed earlier. And getting ahead of the competitor makes a big difference.

"The Christmas trading period is important because the rest of the year has been slow, so retailers are dependent on Christmas sales," he said.