Leaves are starting to fall, warm sweaters and boots are being unearthed from storage and pumpkin-flavored everything is in the stores.
Meanwhile, Betsy McCune, a 40-year-old mom from St. Charles, Missouri, is busy wrapping Christmas presents for everyone on her list — including her husband, daughter and favorite postal worker.
That’s right. McCune is completely, 100 percent done holiday shopping. And while McCune may be the exception — she has a detailed spreadsheet that she carries with her at all times, shops throughout the year, and organizes all the gifts into containers — she’s not alone.
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“There are millions of people who have this early-bird itch,” said Kathy Allen, a spokesperson for the National Retail Federation.
In fact, a recent survey by SessionM, a Boston-based digital marketing company, found that 26 percent of consumers have already begun their holiday shopping and 58 percent are planning to hit the stores before Black Friday, which falls on Nov. 27 this year.
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Michelle Rafter is one who plans to get an early start, even though she’s having knee-replacement surgery this month.
Rafter, a Portland, Oregon, writer, plans to use that down time to shop online for the holidays and dodge the last-minute shopping crush.
"My husband and daughter also have birthdays right before and after Christmas so I have to plan ahead to avoid racing around at the last minute, which I've definitely done in the past,” said Rafter.
Avoiding that mall madness by being an early bird, McCune insists, actually helps preserve the true meaning of holidays.
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“While everyone else is spending hours in the mall or shopping online, my family is checking out Christmas lights and festive events or enjoying quality time together at home,” said McCune. “It also allows me to think about special people in my life all year and really put some thought into what they might enjoy.”
For example, one very special and sparkly gift (don’t worry, no spoiler alerts!) on McCune’s list took two months to design and create.
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Nicole Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded, a news education and support site for retailers, said there are couple big advantages to early holiday shopping: Shoppers are more likely to avoid impulse buying and panicked, last-minute purchases and can budge better by spreading gift costs throughout the year.
“It’s definitely a better allocation of financial resources,” said Reyhle, author of “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Business.”
That said, McCune is probably not saving any more money than a person who waits until the traditional holiday spending kick off — Black Friday -- and the lesser-known but equally rewarding Small Business Saturday, she said.
“The best sales traditionally do follow Thanksgiving,” said Reyhle. “Small Business Saturday, too, is when your local stores are giving you the incentive and special experiences they are working toward for the better part of a year, so that’s when they are going to have the best sales.”
There’s something else that early shoppers miss.
“There’s hot cider, VIP treatment, and the stores are all decked out after Thanksgiving,” said Reyhle. “And shoppers won’t experience that in May or June.”
Whether you shop early or wait until the last minute, Katherine Hutt, a spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau, cautions shoppers about falling victim to scams and sketchy websites.
“Shop smart and make sure the merchant is trustworthy and dependable,” said Hutt.
McCune, meantime, says she has converted a few friends to her systematic approach to shopping, but admits it’s not for everyone. “Organization is key,” said McCune.
She’s not kidding. Guess when she starts her nice list?