Can It Be Christmas Already?

Posted by Allison on 1 September 2009, 15:26

Apparently it can if you live in other countries and you want to make the most of the weakening British pound.  It is way too early for us Brits to be into the festive spirit, but as far as British businesses are concerned there is a chance here to appeal to people who are visiting from other countries.

The state of the British pound has been the subject of much talk lately.  For starters, even though things have improved for the currency since the beginning of the year, the exchange rates are still well down on the position they were in this time last year.  We often compare the state of the pound against the US dollar, but the truth is that the pattern is there to be seen against plenty of other currencies as well.  You only have to look at your currency converter to see that.

It has taken another step back recently though, thanks to the stumbling economy and the negative comments coming out of the Bank of England.  But it doesn’t matter why the drop has happened – what matters is that some businesses are clearly trying to make the most of it in whatever way they can.

And Selfridges in London is at the forefront of this drive to up sales.  Sky News reported that the store had its Christmas shop up and running at the beginning of August.  You can read the news story here.

But while we Brits may turn our noses up at the appearance of a Christmas store before the school holidays are even over, it appears to be going down a storm with a very specific group of people.

These, of course, are the holidaymakers heading over to UK shores from places like America and elsewhere around the globe.  What we tend to forget is that our weak pound means currencies elsewhere are strong against our currency.  On the 1st August last year, Americans were getting just 0.5058 UK pounds for their dollar.  But at the same point in 2009 the figure was standing at 0.6051.  That is a big difference, and it is why the UK tourist trade is doing better than probably most other sectors in this country at present.

If you look at the Selfridges offerings, you will see that some of them are clearly reaching out to this market.  Souvenir baubles and other similar items will no doubt find their way into suitcases across the globe as this year’s holiday season continues.  And if it works and brings more money into the UK, why should we care that we are bringing out the Christmas cheer so early?

In fact, while some are berating Selfridges for being so hot to try and get us to start thinking of Christmas now, we think they should be congratulated.  They clearly aren’t aiming at us.  If we bought a few bits they would doubtless be grateful.  But for the time being the main thing to remember is that they are focusing on another market.  And if that market begins to dry up as the main holiday season quietens down, then who can blame them for being so quick to make the most of it?

The real question is how many other businesses will jump on the bandwagon too.



  1. This made me smile. It’s the middle of the school holidays and all the big London stores have their Christmas ranges out.

    I can’t say I blame them though. If it helps sales by bringing in foreign visitors to spend money, why shouldn’t they? I know someone who owns a pine shop and they start getting people asking when their Christmas range will be out before the end of August each year. They hold off until October but they could put it out sooner.

    If there is a demand for it, why not? The trouble is you will get complaints too.

    — Allison · Sep 16, 03:07 PM · #

  2. Well I’m a man so it doesn’t really mean much to me – so long as all the Christmas gifts are still out on Christmas Eve it’s fine! That’s when I go shopping; I always leave it all until the last minute. Force of habit I think.

    It is nice to see everything come out every year though – all the Christmas decorations and so on always look nice. My only problem is that I tend to have a late summer holiday and I went away this year and browsed the gift shops only to see all the Christmas stuff out as well. Very weird!

    — Ben · Oct 13, 11:16 AM · #

  3. Yes it can be Christmas already – it is the 21st December as I am writing this! I remember reading this article when it was first published and I can’t believe we are now nearly at the big day.

    I wonder how Selfridge’s fared overall this year though. Did their early start make a difference overall or did they sell just as much as they did last year? The recession has made many businesses more eager to find profits however they can, and you can’t blame them. I’d have done the same if I had a business. Christmas comes on the same date – it doesn’t matter when you start selling.

    — CDixon · Dec 21, 11:49 AM · #