HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) – Forget the weather outside: Retail outlets went from frightful to delightful pretty early this year, putting up Santa Claus displays almost before ghosts and witches had finished haunting their aisles.

And most of us think that Halloween is too early to start marketing for Christmas.

That’s the findings of a High Point University Poll of North Carolinians, which reported that 55% of adults in North Carolina think September and October are too early for retailers to start stocking their shelves for Christmas.

Shoppers pass by displays of Christmas items in a Costco warehouse on Sept. 28. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Of course, just less than a third of us (29%) think it’s all just fine and are ready for the holidays. The rest don’t give a reindeer’s rear about the issue.

HPU surveyed 1,009 adults via an online panel during Oct. 19-26. This poll’s respondents aren’t as randomly selected as most. The poll’s credibility interval – sort of like a margin of error – was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. The data were weighted toward population estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity and education based on U.S. Census numbers, a release about the poll said.

The first question to answer is why stores think this is a good idea in the first place. The simple answer is that many companies’ successes and failures translate direction to Christmas sales.

That number was projected recently by the National Retail Federation to be as much as $960.4 billion this year, which would be a growth of 6% to 8% in U.S. holiday sales for 2022.  In 2021, holiday sales grew 13.5% and totaled $889.3 billion, the NRF says.

WalletHub, the online personal finance site that tracks all sorts of data, says its research shows that 50% say they will spend about 28% less on Christmas because of inflation.

But all those displays are to try to get the customers’ attention and cause them to spend early and often, experts say.

Displays of Christmas trees stand along an aisle in a Costco warehouse store in mid-November. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“Established merchants put out holiday merchandise because they understand having it on the floor beats having it in a distribution center or stockroom,” retail expert Bob Phibbs writes in his blog The Retail Doctor. Whatever sells is a bonus.

“With many merchants having less staff due to the pandemic, it can take longer to get the merchandise out onto the floor. And let’s face it, Halloween doesn’t have the breadth of merchandise across all categories as Christmas does.

“So, if you are a retailer, find a way to get your seasonal items out there before a competitor steals your customer and gets them to open their wallet now – leaving you with lower retail holiday sales.”

NRF spokesperson Ana Serafin Smith explained to USA TODAY a few years ago that retailers react to “consumer needs and wants.”

“Therefore, if the consumers are asking for holiday products earlier in the year, you are more than likely to see retailers start having a small assortment by late summer and build up their inventory as we move into the holiday season,’’ she said.

So when is the right time?

When they were asked about their personal plans, more than half said they would be decorating for the holidays around Thanksgiving or earlier. In fact, more than 1 in 10 said they would decorate “right after Halloween.”

Bottom line is that most – 83% – said they would decorate by early December.

When will they come down? Well, about 1 in 10 – maybe those Halloween people – said they would remove those decorations on Dec. 26, and 4 in 10 said on New Year’s Day.

But there were those really dedicated folks, 2%, who said they kept their decorations up all year round.

Don’t suggest that to the retailers!