Sam Harding says bah humbug to the shops that think Christmas begins in October From October, the tinny strains of carols start to echo down the supermarket aisles. Had they been two months later we might have found them uplifting, but this early on frankly, they just make you feel rather sick. So why do stores feel the need to force the festivities upon us so early on? Logically speaking, it makes perfect business sense. It is the 21st century after all and Christmas has moved away from a purely religious festival to a frenzy of consumerism. Every aspect, from the parties to the presents, is about spending, mostly on disposables. This means that encouraging consumers to get caught up in this frenzy earlier on in the year has huge financial potential. All the managers I have worked for admit that it makes a great deal of profit. But some consumers are fighting back to what they see as a pressure to spend more and more, over a longer period of time. Sarah, a local shopper who I met on Cornmarket, said that “ they [Oxford’s local shops] try to force us into the Christmas spirit so early on that by the time I’d actually start thinking about Christmas myself, I’m sick of it already! It really wakes you up to how materialistic Christmas has become in England.” She makes a fair point. Of course, this is not to say that we shouldn’t enjoy Christmas and all the festivities that go with it. But can’t we have them at an appropriate time, and in moderation? Most of us put up our trees in early December. Early October is taking things too far. Encouragingly, one shop assistant that I spoke to said that her manager was retaliating against the premature Christmas displays in neighbouring shops, and was refusing to put up any decorations until late November. An admirable move indeed. We can only hope that the shop will not suffer as a result. I for one would far more happily shop somewhere where I won’t be choked in cheap tinsel and have to listen to another cover of ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’. All I can say is, if he saw Cornmarket in October, he might well turn around. The festive season has been prematurely over-hyped, and ‘tis the season to be jolly might well need a timescale in the future. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have our festive cheer, we’d just like to see it displayed with our good old-fashioned British reserve.