Christmas crackers. Festive goods go on sale
THE leaves are still on the trees, but the Christmas puddings and crackers are already on the shelves.
Despite the calendar, and the weather, both suggesting it is the season of mellow fruitfulness, shops in Cheltenham are starting to sell Christmas items 99 days before December 25.
Marks & Spencer's food department had a large selection of gift-wrapped chocolate boxes, Christmas cakes and even a box of shortbread with reindeers on.
With tins of Christmas-branded chocolates stacked five foot high, Tesco Metro were getting into the spirit as well.
Gents, come in to Earl's & Co and enjoy a haircut and finish, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £18.50
Terms: Later and earlier appointments available upon request
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
In M&S, the plum puddings and snow-scene iced fruit cakes are still sharing space on the shelves with Great British Summer branded picnic sets.
Santa's cheery face beams out from bags placed by the doorway in The Card Factory and in Poundland on the High Street customers were able to pick up Advent calendars, crackers and festive ribbons.
In fact, without leaving the same aisle, they could have bought Halloween witches' hats and decorations, killing two festivals with one stone.
But some shoppers in Cheltenham thought that traders should finish with one before selling goods associated with another.
Anna Perry, 30, who lives in Cirencester, said "It's a bit early really. The shops should wait until after Halloween."
Starting so early also could give some problems to parents of youngsters, said Becky Cooke, who lives in Fairview.
The 37-year-old said: "I hate it. It spoils the magic of Christmas.
"I have two young children and by the start of September they're already asking for things.
"It shouldn't start until December."
Thomas Thoma, 33, who works in Cheltenham, agreed.
He said: "If kids are exposed to Christmas too early, then there's no mystery."
And yesterday the weather didn't help engender any ho-ho-holiday joy, with shoppers running from raindrops rather than enjoying Jack Frost nipping at their toes.
Brendan Corder, 41, who lives in Alderton, wasn't feeling too jolly. He said: "It's definitely too early. I went to Tesco this morning and the Christmas stock is already taking up the space of normal products."
While the shops are slowly bringing in Christmas goods, their websites are even further advanced into the festive season.
A quick search on Sainsbury's website revealed 85 hits when 'Christmas' was searched for, with mince pies already on offer, and Tesco online have a whopping fourteen different Christmas puddings to choose from.
Simon Cannon, who lives in Cheltenham town centre, said: "It's always too early, but it's the same with everything. It's sold too early as shops want to maximise their sales."
But others were more understanding. "I don't really mind it. If people want to buy it already, then that's fine," said Jake Townsend, 19, of Wyman's Brook.