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November 12, 2013

Shorter season attracting early holiday shoppers

Retailers, shoppers start the season early

There was a time when the holiday shopping season didn’t begin until the day after Thanksgiving.

Those days are long gone.

Southern New Hampshire merchants started decorating their stores and selling holiday merchandise in October. Christmas trees sellers are anxiously awaiting shipments of evergreens and holiday music is everywhere.

This year, a compressed holiday shopping season is drawing more shoppers earlier to area stores, local merchants said. Thanksgiving is on Nov. 28 — the latest day on which the holiday can fall, giving shoppers less time to make purchases between Black Friday and Christmas.

That means shoppers seem even more eager this year to buy holiday gifts, flooding stores beginning in October, merchants said.

The Home Depot is best known as a place to buy construction materials and appliances, but the Londonderry store has been drawing numerous customers seeking holiday items, assistant manager Steve Flagg said.

“People are definitely shopping earlier because they have one week less,” Flagg said yesterday.

The Home Depot started putting its holiday merchandise out during the first two weeks of October, he said. It didn’t matter that Halloween was still a few weeks away.

“They started buying it as soon as we put it out,” Flagg said. “It’s been selling every day since.”

At The Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, the shorter season has more people out early, trying to beat the holiday rush, general manager Cindy Hall said.

“We have fewer shopping days, but the shoppers are realizing it,” Hall said.

Decorating at the mall for the holidays began the Sunday before Halloween, but that’s typical, Hall said.

Shoppers could buy Christmas lights at the same time they stocked up on Halloween candy.

“We had both happening at the same time,” Hall said of the two holidays.

There hasn’t been lull since, she said. Some stores will open four hours earlier on Thanksgiving — 8 p.m. instead of midnight, she said.

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