Friday, August 19

Are early Christmas sales an indicator of tough economic times?

If we're headed for more tough economic times, Thursday's Le Droit may have found an unconventional leading indicator to support this: Christmas sales are coming early this year. Ottawa-area Costcos are already selling artificial Christmas trees and snow globes, apparently. And the Bay is planning on kicking off its Christmas sales a month early, starting in mid-October instead of mid-November.

The retailers aren't citing pending economic doom as their motivation. Costco is running with an-early-bird-catches the worm strategy; its spokesman told Le Droit, "We strongly believe in the concept of 'first on the shelves, first sold.'" The Bay, meanwhile, says it has found people like to put out their Christmas decorations before the weather turns really cold.

But pretend for a moment that you're a retailer, and you expect that the economy is going to implode smack dab in the middle of the busiest sales period of the year. What would you do? I'd try to get people to do their Christmas shopping as early as possible, before stock markets have a chance to collapse, companies lay off employees and consumers shut their wallets.