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Christmas at Halloween: The Retail Holiday Megalopolis

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Black Friday, the day that retailers traditionally offer ridiculously low prices and open their stores at ridiculously early times for ridiculously crazed customer isn't just for the day after Thanksgiving anymore. In fact, and this is scary, retailers are breaking Black Friday like sales starting this Halloween weekend.

Is nothing sacred? Can't we just enjoy candy corn, pumpkins, witches and devils (yes, it is close to Election Day) without worrying about getting in line to buy a new flat screen, fuzzy pink slippers or Candyland?

Have we finally arrived at a new time and place in the retail promotional cycle? The "Retail Holiday Megalopolis"--a vast cluttered merger of contiguous and overlapping holidays.

For years, on the real Black Friday, stores promoted time and supply limited, deep discounted items, to grab your shopping dollar before another retailer could pick your pocket. Luring you in with a big loss leader, something they may very well be making no money on (unless they'd cut a great deal with a supplier), in order to hustle your limited disposable dollars before you made off with another guy.

Hey, we're not condemning them for that-- every one needs to make a buck.

But we are more than a little concerned about retail holiday sprawl. Hadn't we already ceded Thanksgiving weekend to Christmas? Now Halloween. What's next Valentine's at Christmas? Easter at New Year? Back to School in May?

A more important question. What should you do with all this frantic and early promotion? By all means, if there is a brand new television that was on your list and you see it at a great price--snap it up. But, don't add a new toaster, iTouch and Taylor Swift CD while you're cruising through Best Buy just because they're offering 10% off. Control yourself.

Do not be seduced. Be a withholding little B and not wantonly give away your precious purse to any Kohl's, Walmart or Macy. Like smart bargain shoppers everywhere--cherry pick.

Besides, if the slashing starts this early, there's likely to be a bigger blood bath closer to the holiday. The lure of all these goodies is going to go on for a long, long time so plan and buy carefully. Watch and wait, watch some more and only when the price is right--pounce.

We're curious: what % off an item motivates you to make a purchase?

Read more from Rosalyn Hoffman at Bitches on a Budget.

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