It's still August (and the bank holiday weather was surprisingly good), but on the high street and in the UK's supermarkets we already have the first signs of Christmas.
In Tesco, Asda and others some goods, particularly giant Christmas chocolate tubs, are now proudly in position, many complete with full-on Christmas displays.
Tesco said many customers like to spread the cost of Christmas while Asda said that only a few of its supermarkets had begun selling the Christmas ranges, but more would soon follow.
Retail blogger Steve Dresser spotted some Christmas chocolate assortments at an Asda store last week, complete with snow on the branding and Christmas hats on the wrappers – and tweeted
what he saw.
Kraft-owned Cadbury's and Nestle typically begin selling their Christmas tins and tubs to retailers from the end of July. But Cadbury's said supermarkets had been "very quick off the mark" this year in getting them onto shelves.
As well as the supermarkets, cash and carry chain Costco has also started selling Chrismas trees, tinsel and advent calenders.
A survey released earlier this month
found that retailers are expecting strong growth in online sales this Christmas – but consumers are not so sure.
Some 25 retailers and more than 2,000 consumers took part in a study carried out by personalisation provider Peerius. It found that 88% of retailers expect to enjoy ecommerce growth of 20% or more this Christmas, with an optimistic 25% expecting internet sales growth of 50% or more.
However, 66% of consumers who expect to shop online this Christmas say that they will spend the same as last year. Some 16% expect to spend less and only 17% expect to spend more. Those expecting to spend more predict an average rise of 26%. Last year, online sales grew by 18%, but Peerius says its results suggest this Christmas will fall short of that.