‘Tis the season …already?

While it may be starting to look a lot like Christmas, it sure doesn’t feel like it. The slumping economy seems to have no affect on the continuing commercialization of this favourite holiday.

As Santa Claus seems to come to town a little earlier every year, over at the Malvern Town Centre they’re expecting the jolly old elf on Nov. 29.

The mall’s Christmas decorations have long been rolled out in anticipation.

“As a general rule of thumb, we try to wait until after Nov. 11,” says Natasha Tissen, marketing director at Malvern.

And while the town centre gave shoppers a bit of breathing room between carving pumpkins and sorting Halloween treats, a lot of malls and retailers haven’t. Instead, a quick stroll through most showed Christmas trees and garlands going up as soon as leftover costumes went on clearance.

Many people had barely finished stealing their brother’s Halloween candy by the time Shoppers Drug Mart had stocked their shelves with candy canes and Advent calendars.

One sales associate says they start rolling in the Christmas stock the week after the spooky holiday.

“With retailers, the holiday season is the biggest shopping time for them,” Tissen says. “They want to extend the feeling of Christmas and the holidays so people get into the spending mode.

“They’re trying to capture as many sales as they can. That could be why many retailers start [early].”

Perhaps it’s something about sparkling lights and candy cane-flavoured drinks that turn normal people into panic-stricken shoppers, but most likely it’s the number of pre-Boxing Day sales that have swept the malls.

In the past few weeks, several major retailers have declared “friends and family day” offering shoppers 25 to 50 per cent off the entire store. Go figure, everyone is suddenly friends with Roots Canada, and best buddies with the Gap.

While our wallets greatly appreciate these sales, we can’t help but wonder what they’re doing to the Christmas spirit (or what’s left of it, as many can argue).

It seems finding the perfect gift suddenly got bumped down on our list of things to do. It now comes in second to finding your size in the pile of marked down sweaters in the corner of the store.

Enjoying the magic of the season has been postponed until we pay off all the credit card debt we rack up during this time of year.

With Christmas a month away, there is still ample time for shoppers to get all the presents on their list. And if they’re lucky, they might even have a minute left to remember what’s most important — the friends and family they’re buying them for.