Scary Santa

Our favorite holiday, Halloween, has come and gone, and do you know what that means? Is it time for us to fill our bellies on various forms of mutton and copious amounts of ale as we honor the founding of our country? Is it time for students around these proud United States to find the funds to hire people to write their final examination essays on their behalf? Is it time to honor those that have served to defend the freedom of our country? Is it time to elect representatives--or at a minimum, make it legal to buy alcohol every day of the week? (Note: The author of this article lives in Georgia.)

For all these questions, the answer to some people is: yes, of course. However, the majority of the Shopping Industry would have us believe it is time for only one thing: Ol' Saint Nick, those witty little elves, Rudolph and His Antlered Crew and Reese's Peanut Butter Trees. That is correct, dear Need Coffee readers, November is here and thus...so is Christmas. Why is it, that two months before the actual event, we are already being seemingly forced to celebrate? No other occasion gets this much fanfare, and the aforementioned vote to approve alcohol sales on Sundays only got a minor blurb in the paper, much to the chagrin of lushes lovers of freedom everywhere. So what is it that makes this happen? This, friends, is called The Christmas Creep.

One of the first sightings of this year's Christmas Creep happened in Jackson, Mississippi. On Saturday, November 5th--the first Saturday after Halloween--Santa Claus appeared at the Northlake Mall. So that means seven full weeks before Christmas, you are able to have a picture with Santa and make wishes for gifts. Compare this to in Atlanta on November 5th, you could still attend one of the Largest Haunted Houses in the country, Netherworld.

So if you were up for a small commute, you could sit on both Santa and Beelzebub's lap in one day.

The Northlake Mall is reasoning that if they get Santa in for a longer stretch of time, then it will attract more customers onto their campus. They are combining major discounts and sales with the emergence of Santa, in order to entice buyers to spend more time in the mall.

The question rises then: how does one find someone to be a Mall Santa for two full months out of the year? That is slightly different than just taking some vacation time at work to make a few extra bucks to help with holiday expenses. We're talking a full commitment to a job. Of course, in 2008 it was discovered that a particular Mall Santa in one of the larger malls in Washington D.C. was making $175 an hour! That is comparable to what some doctors make. That is not the norm, nor is it even an average high end salary, but it is a salary that we know one Santa did make.

I don't know about you, but I think it would be easy to quit a mundane, nine to five office job in exchange for 320 Hours of work over eight weeks at $175/hour. That is a $56,000 yearly income...just to be Santa. In Chicago, it has been reported that in several malls, the typical Santa works ten hour shifts, seven days a week for eight solid weeks. Sure, that is fifty-six straight days of work...but at $175 an hour? That is $98,000 in annual salary!! So I would imagine this particular gentleman is all for pushing the Christmas Creep as early into the year as possible. It is numbers like this that make one thing certain: if ANY one mall has this much money to use for a Santa, then there are astronomical levels of money being exchanged during the period of Christmas Creep. Speaking of which, I need to work on my old belly of jelly and get this beard to really grow out. Apparently it pays more to have the real thing!

Where did the Creep originally come from? According to the all knowing and always correct Wikipedia, "The Christmas season begins with Advent between November 27 and December 3, and lasts through Christmastide, which officially starts December 25th and lasts 12 days." So the "official" season doesn't start for a couple more weeks, yet we are already decking the halls before we have even had a chance to overindulge in tryptophan? It seems like Thanksgiving doesn't get a fair shake, and why not??? It is a holiday where the ONLY goal is to EAT! (I have turned that into a daily celebration year round!)

Edy's Pumpkin Ice Cream and Fat Boy Egg Nog Ice Cream Sandwiches

Not even ice cream is immune to the madness of Christmas Creep. (BTW, this picture was taken in April.)

Well, apparently again the thought is that if retail stores can extend sales earlier into the year, they will attract more customers. However, this doesn't appease my thoughts on the situation. I view it like this: if Customer X is going to "beat the rush" and get their Christmas presents in November, they are going to do that regardless of the sale price. They are not doing it based on price, they are doing it based on convenience. Therefore, if you cut the cost to that customer, all you are doing is costing yourself money. Additionally, if the early savings bring in the bargain hunter customers, aren't they going to bring them in regardless of when they occur? This logic only makes sense to me if there are potential retail customers who only go to the stores and buy things BECAUSE of the Christmas Creep. It would mean that these customers will not buy product otherwise. This is what my mind tells me. My mind, as we have learned in my previous articles, is very bizarre and troubled, so I am sure this is flawed reasoning.

Wikipedia continues to accurately tell us that one of the original pioneers of the Christmas Creep was Sam's Club warehouse. This was so that smaller mom and pop stores that purchased their inventory from Sam's Club would have enough time to get the merchandise on their store shelves for the holiday season. This is a very practical and sensible reason. Soon, this was followed by hardware stores like Lowe's having Christmas Trees available in October, to take the place of the front standing, summer selling lawn equipment that wouldn't sell well in the Holidays. Then, however, other stores started increasing the length of their holiday season because of the lack of Halloween and Thanksgiving merchandise occupying shelf space. So, again Thanksgiving and Halloween are ruled as inadequate holidays in deference to the almighty Christmas Creep. (Bastards.)

One would have to believe that the retail industry has some sort of agreement with the music industry as well. Early in November, it seems that all I can find on my radio is "Good King Wenceslas." Now, I have found a variety of remixes and accompaniments, but there really are only so many times I need to "look out on the Feast of Stephen" in a calendar year. Perhaps this is a level of subliminal advertising to get us to all run to our local shopping center and purchase eggnog, mistletoe and cheekless chaps and have a grand old time. Christmas lights are appearing all over town, decorations are in full effect, and everywhere you go it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The problem is, it has been in the 70s recently. Sounds like a jean shorts and Hawaiian shirt Christmas for me! Granted, that fashion decision may make me the Christmas Creep...but so be it.

Scary Santa Image. Ice Cream Image.