Starting the Holiday Season Early

Eager to expand the holiday shopping season without provoking consumers, retailers are experimenting with a novel approach: earlier-than-ever advertising that deliberately plays down the tinsel and holly.

Shattering records for an early start, Wal-Mart is cutting prices on toys in mid-October, but the company is not calling it a holiday sale. L. L. Bean has started advertising free shipping — but it is shying away from the H word. And Toys “R” Us is marketing a temporary store in Manhattan, but consumers have to study ads to find the name: Holiday Express.

The furtive marketing campaigns are intended to jump-start what stores expect to be a listless buying season, one dragged down by economic jitters and large-scale toy recalls.

More at the New York Times.

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