Is it too early for Christmas shopping in Latvia?

While it seems Christmas is far away, the advent of holiday decor on store shelves in early November is a common practice in Latvia and elsewhere in the world. Representatives of retail stores told Latvian Radio Wednesday that this is due to early demand but it does not mean that shops have forgotten Latvian national holidays in mid-November.

“Despite the preparations for Christmas, we are also constantly celebrating Latvia's national festivities by offering various souvenirs on the subject of the Latvian flag, and there is a wide range of local producers' products. These are different decorations,“ said Maxima Latvia representative Laura Bagātā.

“Of course, Christmas decorations could sway away some of the attention because this stuff is brighter, more colourful. There are dwarves, deer, and all sorts of other scenery that attract attention, but I certainly wouldn't like to say that Latvia's festivities are placed second,” Bagātā said.

When asked if indeed in early November, when Christmas-specific products begin to appear in stores, people are also buying them, she replied in the affirmative. “For example, we are looking at changes in the first two weeks of November this year compared to the corresponding period last year, then we are already seeing a nearly 30% increase in demand for various gift wrappings, gift bags,” the Maxima spokeswoman said.

'Similarly, sales for festive decorations have already seen an increase of more than 20%, and of course things like children's toys that people buy in time. People are eager to buy these goods directly during the time of campaigns – both advantageous and thoughtfully preparing for the end of the year. By redistributing costs in this way and planning spending so that spending in December is not all at once,” noted Bagātā.

Everita Bičkova, head of external communication at Rimi Latvija, also said that Christmas-specific products are being placed on shelves in early November. Besides, the company has been preparing for this festival for a year. Basically, as soon as Christmas is over, it's already starting to plan for next year's product range.

“It's a global experience. If we look at what's happening in the US, then they have the Halloween celebration ending and then start preparing for Christmas. It also comes to Europe,“ Bičkova added.

Currently, at Rimi stores, the biggest demand is for Christmas decorations for the house and tree decorations.

Every year, the Christmas offering also features current fashion trends, and this year is no exception.

“This year, for example, our assortment is also different than in previous years. The world changes, what shoppers like and what they want. This year we have four main colors, from classic red to modern pink. We see it affected by this year's Barbie film coming onto screens,” Bičkova said.

Artūrs Mednis, head of marketing agency New Black, said: “We can't say that Christmas decorations are starting to be sold too early because stores are very much counting along to almost a cent of how every centimeter on store shelves pays off.”

“That's why shops are never likely to put them out too early, like three or four months in advance, when people just don't by them. So there are no Christmas decorations to buy in the summer. And if these decorations appear as early as November, there's likely a fraction of people already starting to buy in November,” Mednis explained.

“Sometimes the products that stand on store shelves are to encourage the sale of other products. For example, we come into the store, everything is beautiful, everything is decorated, there are different things. I don't need [anything], but it feels like we'll buy something now, now we'll take it home. And the other thing, just like there are people buying at the last minute, there are also people buying first, at the very beginning, so that they don't have to deal with crowds afterwards,” Mednis noted.

It is the avoidance of pre-festive hustle and bustle that traders also mention as one of the factors why the Christmas waiting period has been stretched for nearly two months.

On the other hand, when asked by Latvian Radio what happens to goods that remain on store shelves after the festivities, shop representatives claimed that there are very few, it is in the interest of shops to calculate the volume of consumption as accurately as possible.

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