CHARLESTON, W.Va.--For the past several weeks, in the aisles of many local retailers, there's been a familiar refrain from shoppers: "It's Christmas already?"
Days before trick-or-treaters had even begun ringing doorbells this year, many local retail stores already were covering their windows with fake snow and lining their shelves with stocking stuffers.
Nationwide, retailers bank on big holiday sales to help boost annual revenue.
This year, large big-box stores are announcing Black Friday deals earlier than usual and offering new kinds of discounts, from Internet-only deals to coupons handed out over Facebook. Walmart, for instance, is advertising free shipping on many items purchased online.
Several local merchants said it isn't unusual to begin selling Christmas goods so soon, and there's a good reason for it.
Count Magic Mart among stores that have long been ready for the upcoming holiday season.
"We started putting Christmas out weeks ago," said Ray Williams, manager of the store at Liberty Square in Putnam County said recently. "Our entire Christmas department has been set for a few days now. We have trees, lights, bows and knickknacks. We have cleared out our lawn and garden section and put Christmas there. We need to fill the space, plus it gives us a head start."
While the lawn and garden section has been cleared of summer items, it is still possible to find decorative goods for the yard.
"We have inflatables," he said. "Some are really big. We have a 12-foot-long train. We have a snow globe with a nativity in it, Santa on a John Deere tractor, and Santa putting a star on a tree."
Displaying holiday items over a period of several weeks alleviates the pressure and hard work of doing it all at once, he said.
"A lot of people like to shop early," he added. "We've sold a few trees and knickknacks. Maybe they are trying to catch the leftovers of last year's bargains."
Trees and decorations that did not sell last year are now being sold at reduced prices.
As last year's bargains are sold, new merchandise arrives.
"We are getting toys every day," he said.