Retailers, such as Wal-Mart, are making room for school supplies to crowd the shelves, but Hobby Lobby has made room for sparkling angels, Christmas wreaths and ribbons, and of course, the jolly old elf, Saint Nick, to name a few of the Christmas decorations filling their shelves.

For more than 20 years, Hobby Lobby stores have started displaying Christmas decorations June 1.

“One reason for the early arrival of holiday merchandise is that many of our customers make and sell items for craft shows from September through December. They need early access to seasonal items to create their products,” said Bob Miller, spokesman for Hobby Lobby.

“Setting up holiday merchandise is a long process,” said David Rhymes, seasonal merchandise manager, “but it allows us to meet the needs of our early shoppers and allows the company to meter out the workload for the massive amount of product we receive for the season.”

Janessa Ingalsbe, manager of the store in Killeen, said making room for the merchandise is “not really that bad. We have customers that buy it to do crafts and stuff and we have a lot of customers that make and sell things in their own booths.”

“We get many requests from crafters, designers, and decorators who want us to carry Christmas year-round,” said Rhymes. “Starting in May has been a good compromise.”

Miller said key items such as Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands, floral supplies and plastic ornaments arrive first. These are large quantity items, so arriving early helps with space management in the stores. Loose ornaments arrive next because of the time and labor needed to set them up. Then, Christmas home decor arrives.

Lastly, after Halloween, the front section of the store is transformed from fall to Christmas with party merchandise, gift wrap, food and stocking stuffers.

“Seeing Christmas merchandise on shelves in June might seem unusual to some, but the timing of these seasonal items is a tried and true strategy that has served the company and customers well for many years,” Miller said.

Killeen resident Nan Selph, a shopper of the Christmas decorations in summer, is proof the business strategy works.

“I like doing it year-round because it is so stressful at Christmastime,” he said. “It is much more laid back in the summer.”

According to the National Retail Federation, more than 40 percent of Americans begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. The term for the phenomenon is “Christmas Creep,” and is explained on tvtropes.org as retailers placing holiday items earlier and earlier and consumers buying even as they complain about the early appearance of the holiday items.

Miller said those new to Hobby Lobby may find it surprising to see Christmas items in the stores before the Fourth of July, but it is nothing new to those who have been shopping at the store for a while.

The Hobby Lobby location in Killeen opened in August 1999.

The average Hobby Lobby hires 35 to 50 employees at above-minimum wage. Additional seasonal help is always at the discretion of the store manager.

At this time, Hobby Lobby does not accept online applications for hourly personnel, so all applications must be made in person at the retail location. Applications are taken during regular store hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pay for full-time positions begins at $15.70 per hour. Part-time positions begin at $10.45 per hour.

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