CHARLESTON, W.VA. -- While Christmas is trickling into major retailers across the nation three months before the actual holiday, local retailers are divided on when to make their own stores winter wonderlands.
Bridget White opened her store a little more than a month ago in the Shops at Kanawha. Shabby Chic Children's Boutique had a holiday-themed window display this week -- but it wasn't Christmas.
Instead, White's display featured pumpkins and spiders, for fall and Halloween.
"We have some holiday things in already, but I haven't put them out," White said. "It's a bit too early for me."
Just a few stores down at Southern Candles Company & Gifts, the holiday season is in full swing. Snowmen, Christmas trees and ornaments greet customers upon entry.
"We hate to rush it because it pushes fall out of the way and we like fall to have its time but we decided we just need to keep up with everybody else on it," said Jennifer Hall, store manager and buyer.
Retail businesses large and small have struggled with so-called "Christmas creep" for years. Start advertising holiday shopping too late, and miss out on potential holiday sales. Start too early, and risk customers' wrath.
Earlier this month, Kmart kicked off its Christmas campaign with commercials urging customers to shop early. In the commercial, a gingerbread man approaches a worker's cubicle and a voiceover urges her to, "Shop early with Kmart. Get In. Get more Christmas." The ad prompted a backlash against Kmart on the company's Facebook page, although some people said they welcomed the commercial.
Southern Candles' display has been out for three weeks.
"Some people love it, want it out early. Some people hate it, complain about it. But in order to survive we have to do what we have to do," said Hall.
But she said the holiday seasons always means good business. To her delight, customers purchased Christmas tree ornaments the first day their display was out.
"We've sold quite a bit off of it," Hall said. "There are people who like to buy earlier."
Jerry Strick said that for him and his staff at Kid Country Toys, it's always Christmas.
As a toy store, Kid Country tries to keep the same stock year round, Strick said. That also changes how the stores sell around the holidays.