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Orange County Malls Sound Out Shoppers With First Noel

Times Staff Writer

It’s 84 degrees. It’s humid. It’s barely past summer. And it’s that time already.

Yes, more than three weeks before you can even say “boo,” Orange County’s malls are beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

At Fashion Island, The Broadway, Neiman-Marcus and JW Robinson’s have pulled out the garland and the glitter in their Trim-A-Tree shops. South Coast Plaza’s Bullock’s and The Broadway did the same this week, stocking Christmas cards by the shelf-full, boxes of shiny ornaments and more wreaths and trees.

And Lindsay’s, a South Coast Plaza gift store, officially uncorked the holiday spirit Thursday when it decked out a small forest of trees and put Santas on display.

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The idea is to let shoppers know only 79 shopping days are left before the big event.

So even though Halloween isn’t here and Thanksgiving is still seven weeks away, retailers can’t start too soon when it comes to spreading Christmas cheer. After all, “with more and more women working, those leisurely shopping days have disappeared,” explained Carie Pearl, general manager at The Broadway in Costa Mesa. “I’ve got to make it happen right now.”

Some stores are actually starting later than in past years. Bullock’s at South Coast Plaza, for instance, is decking out its Trim-A-Trees about two weeks later than last year, spokesman Jack McCarley said. “Floor space is very valuable,” McCarley said. “To have two weeks of mediocre productivity in the middle of September is an important economic consideration.”

And Bullock’s didn’t want to seem to really be jumping the gun, he added.

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With that same thought in mind, Bullock’s and other major retailers are not planning to decorate their entire stores until at least mid-November.

Nonetheless, said one retailer, even the grinches are glad to see signs of Christmas.

“Sure, we get people who groan it’s not even Halloween yet,” he said. “But they say it as they’re buying and asking, ‘Do you have another ornament?’ ”


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