As I drove home this afternoon, I noticed workers attaching Christmas wreaths to the local real estate office. Call me crazy but I think it’s way too early to be adding snowmen and Santa to the landscaping. I mean it’s not even Halloween yet! Not to show my age or anything but I can remember when Christmas attire was not commercially displayed until immediately after Thanksgiving. However the times have changed, for I have seen merchandise in stores as early as July this year.

I’m not in the retail field but I wonder…are these initiatives to prolong the magical shopping season a true improvement to the whole retail process? Are consumers likely to spend more the longer items are on the shelf or is the same amount spent but in months and not weeks nowadays? How does carrying the extra inventory offset any bottom line savings for expediting the goods to market?Are customers less likely to return gifts the earlier they buy them in the season? It would be interesting to look at buying patterns over the last 30 years to see the variance in days of when product is first put on the shelf until the actual holiday itself. It would be even more interesting to see if it makes significant difference in sales. Lastly I’m wondering what Six Sigma methodologies could be used to justify these actions.If you work in retail, I’d love to hear from you as it seems there is great opportunity for integrating Six Sigma into the holiday season.

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