By Katie Griffiths

It’s the week when shoppers traditionally start to rage about the fact that, no sooner do we put the Halloween decorations away, stores start to play their Christmas tunes.

Bah humbug, we say, pushing our trolleys along to the sounds of Jingle Bells, thinking that it’s only just the beginning of November and there are still fireworks on display.

But perhaps we should cut retailers a bit of slack - by realising just how important the festive season is to their livelihood.

Gary Grant, founder of The Entertainer which has 140 stores around the country, has explained why shops risk alienating customers by trying to get them in a Santa-loving mood.

"It's all about setting the scene. What you'll find is that Christmas music gets integrated into the music we normally play,” he told Sky News.

"It's like going into a supermarket and they pump in a fresh bread smell, and you think to yourself 'oh yes, I need to buy some bread'.

"The songs I'm playing are ones you've grown up with and, when you hear them, something triggers inside you. It's nostalgia. Christmas lights are going up.

"Once we get past fireworks night, the focus is totally on Christmas."

For retailers like The Entertainer, Christmas is so crucial it can't start soon enough. The company expects to turn over as much money in these final two months of the year as it does for the other 10.

"Without these final eight weeks we wouldn't make any money," he said.

Research commissioned by American Express and undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research claimed the value of the festive period to small retailers hit £13.9 billion in 2014.

A survey in 2015 found that almost three quarters of retailers in the UK and the USA made at least 20% of their annual sales from the festive period.

Wine merchant Duncan Murray said: “In the 10 days prior to Christmas I would say we make around four months’ worth of average monthly sales. It’s incredibly busy.”

So if you’re ranting about Christmas coming early, and cards going out on the shelves in September, remember the humble retailer trying to make a profit and give the staff their annual bonus.

 

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