By: Daniel Sweeney On: November 13, 2012 In: Advertising & Marketing Comments: 0

While Halloween was just three weeks ago and Thanksgiving less than a week away, neither presents quite the same promotional and marketing opportunities as the true holiday season.

We can all lament the premature arrival of Christmas trees and holiday lights, but retailers need only look at the numbers when contemplating kickstarting early holiday promotions.

In 2011, holiday sales topped more than $560 billion, up 5.6% from 2010. The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasts 2012 holiday sales to exceed $586 billion.

According to NRF, the holiday season alone represents between 20-40% of annual sales for some retailers. With those kinds of numbers it’s easy to see why retailers are none too concerned about the amount of eye rolls their early decorations induce.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally marks he beginning of the holiday season – with retailers slashing prices and holding massive early morning sales. As Black Friday creep into the subsequent weekend, that following Monday (Cyber Monday) has become online shopping’s answer to Friday’s mall and in-store mayhem.

Last year, shoppers shelled out a combined $11.7 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday –   $11.4 billion on Black Friday, $1.3 billion on Cyber Monday.

Beyond the ornaments, garland and Black Friday madness, larger retailers are using layaway programs to quickly usher in the holiday season.

Walmart unveiled its holiday layaway program in October, allowing shoppers to reserve items for just 20% down by Oct. 31. The results of Walmart’s early layaway program have been so encouraging (more than $400 million in sales by mid-October) that one has to wonder whether or not other larger retailers will follow suit.

For now, I’d advise just you to put on a smile and enjoy the lower prices because the early jump on the holidays isn’t going anywhere