Paul Simons: Christmas retail panic has started already

Earlier today I was walking along a street in Camden (a district in London for readers outside the UK) when I spotted old Christmas decorations on lampposts and my heart sank at the thought – given it is still August with more summer promised.

Later in the day I opened an email from Harrods promoting their Christmas Grotto, flagging the important point that reservations can be made to visit this magical event from early September.

Now I can kind of forgive the old decorations in Camden, that’s just apathy on the part of the local council whereas Harrods have been planning the Grotto event for months. I always think of the movie ‘About a Boy’ where Hugh Grant plays the son of songwriter who has penned a Christmas hit which is played every year, a bit like Slade, Roy Wood and several others. In the movie Hugh is in a supermarket in November when he hears it for the first time that season and he moans about it being only November. If only that was the case these days.

No doubt Adam&Eve/DDB will be editing their Christmas extravaganza for John Lewis over the bank holiday along with numerous other retailers and their agencies. I hope and pray none of this fine work appears on air before 1st December but I am not optimistic about that. Christmas just seems to get earlier and earlier each year and this one is a big watershed for some UK grocery retailers with their brand shares, sales and profits all over the place.

Tesco for example are getting hammered at the moment so they need to pull a few rabbits out of hats in the final quarter of 2014, which obviously includes Christmas.

M&S are going bonkers with non-stop sales as they strive to turn around their flagging clothing business; again Christmas will be another test for them.

So rather than hoping the Christmas advertising barrage might start later it is more than likely to start even earlier this year as everyone fights for brand share in a topsy-turvy world.

Harrods have fired the starting gun with their Grotto event; maybe this has provoked panic everywhere in Retail World. I’m imagining marketing directors enjoying their last family week of the summer holidays in Provence getting calls from their CEOs demanding Christmas is brought forwards.

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About Paul Simons

Paul joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management and then moved to United Biscuits. He switched to advertising in his late 20s, at Cogent Elliott and then Gold Greenlees Trott. He founded Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson in the late 80s, one of the leading creative agencies of the 90s. Simons Palmer then merged with TBWA to create a top ten agency. Paul then joined O&M as chairman & CEO of the UK group. After three years he left to create a new AIM-quoted advertising group Cagney Plc. He is now a consultant to a number of client companies. Paul also shares his thoughts on his blog. Visit Paul Simons Blog.

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