Friday 30 September 2016

Selfridges opens Christmas store ... with just 145 shopping days to go

Published 02/08/2016 | 23:57

Father Christmas is on hand at the opening of Selfridges' Christmas shop at its department store in Oxford Street, London
Father Christmas is on hand at the opening of Selfridges' Christmas shop at its department store in Oxford Street, London

Selfridges has opened its Christmas store - with the temperature outside at 19C (66F) and 145 shopping days left to buy all the festive essentials.

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Christmas has come almost five months early to the central London retailer where the fourth floor has been decked out with 50,000 decorations.

Selfridges said it was the first department store in the world to launch its Christmas shop this year and even Santa Claus was in town for the opening.

But not everyone is feeling the festive spirit, with Twitter user Trevor A Bishop tweeting: "This helps take all the magic, wonder and being special out of Christmas. Far too early. Only interested in their own profit."

Bruce Summers tweeted: "Bloody hell most folk not even finished summer holidays yet!!"

But Selfridges said that eager customers - especially from overseas - were already starting their Christmas purchases.

The store said among this year's big trends were p ersonalised decorations, d isco gems, w arm and white metallics, and Nordic wood.

Geraldine James, Christmas home and decorations buyer, said: "Despite the summer weather, we're in full festive mode here at Selfridges. We've been working on this year's Christmas Shop since Christmas last year.

"We have so many customers visiting from all over the world and eager to snap up festive souvenirs on their summer holidays, which they can't buy at home. So, we have to make sure we're ready to showcase Christmas decorations they will truly treasure."

Retail expert Clare Rayner said people who like to plan ahead and spread out their spending welcome being able buy a little bit each month in the run-up to Christmas.

She also referred to the "massive influx of tourists", particularly in London, who will potentially spend a lot of money.

"Certainly, even in the supermarkets, it is not uncommon to see Christmas stuff beginning to filter in after August bank holiday," she said.

Ms Rayner also pointed out that the spring/summer fashion season comes to an end at the end of July, and the autumn/winter season launching at the end of July or beginning of August may not directly feature Christmas products but may include evening wear which would lend itself to the Christmas and new year season.

While some consumers might respond negatively to a dedicated Christmas shop, she added: "It's something that perhaps they don't realise is happening year in year out, just perhaps it's not branded as 'Christmas shop' in quite such an overt way."

Ms Rayner said Christmas shopping has been done "later and later" over the last 10 years, with people spending almost 50% of their Christmas budget in the last five working days before December 25.

For this reason, retailers are working harder to pull forward some of that spend, she said.

Ms Rayner said retailers are reacting to the trend of Black Friday where people are holding back for the big deals, and perhaps also Cyber Monday when shoppers click on to the internet for gifts.

"I know from commentary through social media that there are people who are already buying some of their Christmas presents and that actually it seems to be a trend that people buy little and often throughout the year so that there isn't a mad panic.

"And actually, if that's what the retailers are tapping into, then that's great," she said.

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