Customs: No, You're Not Dreaming; It's Already Christmastime

Ann McGeath, a clerk in Dallas' big new Sanger-Harris department store, was trimming a display Christmas tree one afternoon when she felt a tug on her skirt. "Lady," said a four-year-old boy, his tiny face knotted with perplexity, "Lady, it's not even Halloween yet." It wasn't, either. Sanger-Harris, together with many other U.S. depart ment stores, installed its early-bird Christmas Shop in October this year, replete with cards, creches, plastic Christmas trees, tinsel and wrappings. The U.S. shopper is not imagining things. Christmas does come a little earlier each year.

"From a national standpoint, everyone is purchasing display items a...

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