Here’s why you’ve been seeing Christmas stuff in stores already for a month now.

Now I should say that my only insider knowledge is from being a Walmart retail worker, and that was over 10 years ago. But this is how it was explained to us:

Everything comes from China. Trees, tinsel, ornaments, inflatable Santas. We don’t make those here in the US anymore. So what does that mean?

It means retailers have to order them well in advance. It means retailers have to order the entire anticipated season’s sales in advance, in one shot. Probably back in February. For everything.

All the fake trees. All the fake wreaths. All the fake snow spray cans.

Why February (and this date is a total guess on my part)? Because it takes a long time to push out all those orders, and then they get loaded onto boats that are expected to arrive in US waters sometime in September. Just to be safe. Which means they leave Chinese waters in July or thereabouts.

To be clear: this means that a company’s entire Christmastime sell through has to be thought through and ordered back in February. Why?

Because if you run out of tinsel, or ornaments, or cinnamon scented pine cones, or GOD HELP YOU WRAPPING PAPER in November, that’s it. There is no going back to the source to fill the gap.

As one manager put it, “That little old lady that was knitting Christmas sweaters? Now in November she’s knitting lawn mowers.”

But why do we see this in October? Because Walmart doesn’t let anything sit in the back of the store if they can help it. Their entire business model is to not own any merchandise longer than they have to. So they push it to the floor, the earlier the better. And god help the store that has leftover holiday merchandise.