The Harm of Seasonal Creep

By Melissa Tosetti

On August 10th I took a picture of Halloween costumes on sale at Costco.  Three days later, a display of Christmas ribbon appeared across the aisle.

Seasonal creep is the practice of retailers introducing holiday themed merchandise or decorations LONG before the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

I have very few pet peeves, but seasonal creep is at the top of my list.  For many years I’ve been rather verbal on my personal social media about my frustration with the practice.

My rants have become so frequent that now, my friends and family take photos when they run across it, tagging me as they post them on social media or sending me memes.  It’s become a hunting game.

Hilariously, the other day, my friend Jessi posted on Facebook that she bought a Christmas item at our local grocery store and hid it because she was terrified, she would run into me while still shopping.  That comment made me laugh out loud, but it gives you an idea of the scope of my peeve.

Here’s my problem with season creep:

Retailers are not allowing us to enjoy and focus on the season we’re currently in.

When we walk into a store, too often, we’re greeted by holiday displays for a holiday that is months away.  To a degree, it creates a momentary disconnect of the holiday season we’re currently in.

Manufactured Urgency

It used to be that you could pick up bargains after the holidays as retailers hosted clearance sales to make room for the next holiday’s merchandise.

Now, retailers are offering holiday clearance sales well BEFORE the holiday is over.  While that is fantastic for picking up bargains, in a way, it’s shortening the actually season we’re currently in –on the back end- as they make floor space for the next holiday.

Creates Dissatisfaction

What may feel contradictory in this article to regular readers of The Savvy Life is that we always promote planning in advance and we still do.  However, there’s a balance to planning and if you’re not careful, it can leave you with the inability to enjoy the season you’re currently in as you focus too heavily on holidays that are months away.

How to Fight Seasonal Creep

Your calendar is your tool and you have to decide in advance of a holiday when you want to pull the trigger and or start planning.

For example, outside of ‘pinning” clever holiday costume ideas I might stumble on in Pinterest, I refuse to even think about Halloween until after Labor Day.  I want to fully enjoy my summer.

Toward the beginning of October, I begin to manage my calendar for the holidays, blocking out family obligations and events I want to do, but it isn’t until after Halloween that I start to dive deeper into the planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas or to start making holiday purchases.  I want to be closer to the season when I start to do those particular holiday tasks.

Note: I know a lot of friends and clients who enjoy purchasing holiday gifts throughout the year as they stumble on them in special shops or through their travels.  That’s a wonderful habit to have and does not fall under the category of seasonal creep.  It’s a purposeful habit they’re choosing to implement rather than the retail industry prompting their spending decisions.

It’s on us to find that balance of enjoying the season we’re in while properly planning for holidays that are coming up.  For everyone, that may look a little different, but putting some thought into it in advance may go a long way toward being able to walk into your favorite retailer without feeling seasonally violated.


Melissa Tosetti is the founder of The Savvy Life and author of the international bestseller Living The Savvy Life. For the past eight years, she’s worked with over 545 individuals and families to create Spending Plans. Melissa also works with financial advisors and their clients doing cash flow planning as well as giving over 200 Savvy Living presentations via webinar and in-person to audiences across the U.S.

If you’d like to learn more about how Melissa works with clients visit The Savvy Life’s Programs page.

If you’d like to learn more about how Melissa works with financial advisors and their clients visit: The Savvy Life Advisor’s Page