As Jezebel noted yesterday, “Nancy Puccinelli of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School confirms what anybody who has been to a mall in the past ten years can tell you: excessive decorations, intrusive music, and ‘enforced holiday cheer’ are obnoxious and grating.” I for one can’t stand seeing holiday decorations before Thanksgiving, and this year I noticed that every time I did see Christmas lights before December, I got physically tense. According to Puccinelli, I’m not alone. “The earlier the decorations go up, the sooner the stress begins and the greater it will be once the holidays arrive,” she says.
It turns out, if retailers know what’s good for them, they should cut back on holiday displays. Not simply in order to avoid stressing out consumers — after all, trying on jeans will stress most consumers out. But because fewer holiday decorations are better for the bottom line.
“We know from studies of consumer behavior that moderation in festive decor leads consumers to spend more and to like the retailer more,” Puccinelli says. That makes perfect sense to me. Other ways retailers can win with Christmas decor? Puccinelli suggests keeping things chill:
Classical melodies, such as Tchaikovsky’s “[The] Nutcracker,” celebrate the holiday without hitting consumers over the head with the joy they should be experiencing. Dimmer blue tones would be relaxing for consumers. Nostalgic smells might help consumers focus on the holidays as a family time and detract from the stress of gift-giving. Perhaps the smell of pine or gingerbread would take consumers back to a time when they did not have the pressures of holiday shopping. While scents do not typically affect mood, they have a strong effect on memory.
Ah, I feel better already! What do you think?
Check the symptoms: Do you have Holiday Affective Disorder?