Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

by : 
Kim Perkins
August 1, 2014

Question: I read yesterday that a recent survey showed almost 80 percent of American adults do not approve of retailers playing holiday music in their stores before Thanksgiving, and almost as many resent holiday decorations and merchandise being out before Thanksgiving. But, it seems all the big retailers do it anyway. Is there a guideline for small retailers? When do you put out holiday merchandise?

Answer: Personally, I find it annoying to go shopping and hear Christmas music and see holiday decorations out the day after Halloween, or even before! I have read those same statistics, but it doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on the actions of the larger retail stores. I know of no hard-and-fast rule, so you need to create your own based on what you are comfortable with and your read on your customers’ preferences.

The day after Thanksgiving is when our store decorations usually go up, our holiday merchandise goes out, and holiday music starts to play. The exception is boxed Christmas cards, which our customers start asking for in early October; those go out usually by mid-October. My business partner, who creates our displays, may also do a display on our front table in October in fall colors that can then morph into a holiday display to feature some holiday merchandise before the Thanksgiving weekend, especially when it falls in late November as it does this year.

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Fla. Send your retail questions to