Starting Christmas preparations in September

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Something all Latin American countries have in common is the importance of the Christmas period in their culture. It’s important to celebrate it, to celebrate it right and to celebrate it big ! And that’s probably why they start preparing it very early on…

In all the latin american countries I’ve visited, Christmas decorations appear in stores around mid October, but Ecuador has set a new record in my experience : here, some stores start their Christmas store displays as soon as September begins ! And I’m not exagerating : when I took my kids for their first day at their new Ecuadorian school, I decided to visit the neighbourhood while waiting for the end of the school day. I went to a mall, and to my biggest surprise, a general store already had a complete corner dedicated to Christmas decorations !

This year was obvisouly different, and many countries tried to compensate the difficulties. In Venezuela, for instance, the President announced the Christmas period would start in October. What dies it concretely mean ? Well, they wanted to encourage people to start their Holiday shopping early on, 1° in order to avoid big crowds (and thus health risks) and 2° also to help stores and the general economy through consumption. That sounds like a nice idea, but the problem is, in most Latin American countries, the economies are suffering a lot, and many people could not afford to go Christmas shopping yet. Lots of them have had to wait for 13th month and end-of-year bonuses to start consuming.

In « regular » years, when Christmas decorations appear in stores at the same time as Halloween decorations (or even before!), Christmas is a major time of the year and the families’ budgets are very significant. Thanks to a culture of consumerism and many credit cards and store loyalty cards with unbeatable credit terms, all conditions are met to enter the Chistmas mood as soon as possible !

But if you are one to go last minute Christmas shopping, be aware that many stores already reduce their Christmas assortment as soon as mid-December ! They don’t even wait for the Holidays to be over before their start packing it back up.

Finally, I think it is important to point out that even if stores start selling Christmas items, cities, streets and homes are usually decorated way later, at a “more normal time”, around the beginning of December!

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