BRANDON, Fla. - Walking through the aisles of the Brandon Sam's Club you'd never know that it's actually August rather than December. That's because the store is lined with dozens of Christmas items ranging from trees to lights to lawn ornaments.
"It's great. I love Christmas," said Helen Hepner-Petosky, a Sam's Club shopper who couldn't help but gaze at the twinkling lights on the trees. "Love to see it coming."
The strategy to stock Christmas-related merchandise so far in advance of the actual holiday was a decision made for many Sam's Clubs nationally, said Brandon store manager Steve Tycoliz.
"Early in, early out," Tycoliz said.
Not all customers appreciate the effort.
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"They're taking down all the back to school stuff and putting up all Christmas," said an annoyed Andrea Gavini. "It's just too early."
Not every Sam's Club in the Tampa Bay area will be stocking Christmas items so early. But for those that do, it's an attempt to get a leg up on the competition, while at the same time stoking the holiday shopping fire in customers.
"If you can create the ambiance that it's like Christmas, the Christmas season, the assumption is that might make people spend more," said Dipayan Biswas, associate marketing professor at the University of South Florida.
Shopper Sharon Vann said it was about time.
"It really should be all year long so you can shop when you want," Vann said.
Jessica Vasilakos had to convince her young son to move away from the Christmas trees as he brimmed with excitement. Still, she wasn't surprised by the early arrival of holiday goods.
"No, because every year it gets earlier," she said.