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The Cold Hard 26th of December

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This a question about USA retailing practices. Why is it that there is such an aggressive effort to remove all signs of Christmas in brick-and-mortar stores immediately after the holiday? I had part-time jobs in retail in the late 1980s, and the stripping away of Christmas trappings happened pretty soon even then. But today, it is a dramatic overnight shock to see the holiday decor come down so abruptly, and the new January/organizing and spring/garden stuff come out immediately.

I know there are a lot of factors to the changeover in merchandise - including more precise ordering process, better predictive tools and just-in-time shipping. But I'm even more interested in consumer psychology and retail practice. There must be a reason stores think it's the best idea to drop the holiday music like a hot rock and yank down all the wreaths and garlands in the early hours of 12/26. What gives?

It's bothered me a long time, not least because those of us lucky enough to have a few days off this time of year might want to stretch the season a little and enjoy more of the lights and pretty decorations and music. Also, for a lot of people the Christmas holidays contain more parties, meals, and gift-giving occasions after the 25th, so it would stand to reason that you might still be shopping for seasonal stuff.

There are clearly reasons for this interesting practice, but I'd love to know more. Seeking answers from history, psychology, retail literature, and even anecdotes. I'm also curious as to whether this is just a USA thing - it always seems to me that many other nations, especially Europe, are much more in the practice of extending and honoring what is (religiously and secularly) a 12-day feast.

Thanks for your thoughts, links, and observations.

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