Holiday Music Already? Behold the Christmas Creep

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The phenomenon is known as Christmas creep, and about 81% of American adults think stores should not play Christmas music before Thanksgiving. To boot most consumers plan to spend less during the holidays with many increasing spending on self and home improvement, according to recent surveys.

"The results of our 2013 Holiday Retail Readiness Survey demonstrate that more and more Americans want retailers to focus on getting their websites and apps ready for the holiday rush instead of decorating for the holidays too early," said Tom Lounibos, SOASTA CEO.

The SOASTA survey revealed that 77% think stores shouldn't put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving and 75% feel that stores should have dependable apps for smart phones that can easily handle mobile sales for the holidays.

"When we first conducted this research last year on Christmas creep, an overwhelming majority of Americans told us they want stores to focus on making sure their websites are ready for cyber Monday and that their mobile apps are capable of handling the shopping demand," said Lounibos.

Cyber Monday is a marketing term referring to the Monday after Thanksgiving.

The study further found that 86% of Americans plan to shop online for the holidays this year and the top anticipated online shoppers are men between the ages of 18 and 44 at 93%.

"As we look ahead to the holiday shopping season, it will be surprising if consumer electronics spending does not rebound from its year-over-year drop of 7%," said Phil Christian, general manager with Chase Freedom's cash back card.

The Chase Freedom Lifestyle Index discovered that spending on home improvement increased by 4% and spending in the craft store category is up 91%.

"Third quarter spending behavior points to increased spending and thoughtful investments in books, sporting goods, lessons and classes," Christian said. "As we near the end of the year, cardholders are thinking about New Years resolutions they made several months ago to exercise their body and mind. They are investing in themselves again."

A recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) poll revealed that 87% intend to either spend less than the previous year or nothing at all on holiday purchases.

"The statistics speak loudly and underscore that consumers are not willing to repeat the mistakes of Christmases past by spending irresponsibly this year," said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. "The persistently high rate of unemployment coupled with the long duration of unemployment are still very real challenges many people are facing."

About 11% intend to spend as they did last year because their financial situation is stable but only 3% percent will spend more, feeling as though they are in a better financial position this year.

For the big spenders, the American Bankers Association recommends creating a customizable savings account.

"A Christmas account allows consumers to set aside money throughout the year for holiday spending," said Frank Keating, CEO of the American Bankers Association. "If you don't have a savings account already, make it your New Year's resolution to open one. Being a savvy shopper is a vital way to avoid debt of Christmas past. A little advance planning can prevent a financial hangover when the bills arrive in 2014."

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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