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Christmas Shopping Season

The increasing length of the holiday shopping season has been a trend for many decades. Decorations seem to go up earlier in stores with each passing year. Seasonal merchandise is stocked on shelves soon after Halloween, and Christmas-related commercials appear on television and radio long before Thanksgiving.

On November 24, 1907, the Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln joined a national effort to persuade Christmas shoppers to buy their gifts early in the season and early in the day. The Journal told readers: "A letter urging early Christmas shopping is going out over the signatures of leading department store men and editors to the heads of 5,500 women's department stores and to the 750 newspapers in the 257 cities where these department stores are urging early shopping-early in the month and early in the day. . . .

"This is the letter sent out: 'Will you join in a movement on a national scale to modify the hardships incident to holiday shopping? Observation might show many of us that Christmas is a time of hardship for those who have to do with supplying the needs of Christmas shoppers. Authentic records from the lives of clerks, delivery boys and drivers of wagons show that while we are keeping the Christmas festival, while we are feeding the lame and halt, the blind and friendless, we are lightly reducing to illness and exhaustion the young and strong and faithful who serve us, seen and unseen.'

"'Every year the celebration of Christmas grows more elaborate. More presents are bought; the crowds are greater; the decorations are more splendid. The problems of the merchants are correspondingly more complex; the supply has to be increased; the pressure at every point intensifies. On the one hand, public opinion disapproves long hours and late work, particularly for young women, girls and children. On the other hand, merely through thoughtlessness, many shoppers defer their purchases until the last possible moment at the cost of unnecessary strain upon salespeople and delivery forces.'

"'By joint effort of editors and merchants, the idea can be brought home to millions of customers that they can benefit themselves and everyone concerned if they will do their Christmas shopping early in the season and early in the day. This will lengthen the Christmas shopping period and reduce the disadvantages which, in other seasons, have attended the Christmas crowds.'"

(December 2006)



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