November 5, 2012 / 3:59 PM / 6 years ago

Canadian retailer puts Christmas music on pause

TORONTO (Reuters) - Shoppers Drug Mart Corp SC.TO, Canada’s top pharmacy chain, will switch off the Christmas carols piped into its stores for a little while, bowing to complaints from customers who say the beginning of November is just too early for holiday cheer.

The retailer posted the news on Facebook on Friday, and it spread online over the weekend, prompting thousands of comments both praising and decrying the long holiday season.

“We’ve always started to play our Christmas music at this time of year,” said spokeswoman Tammy Smitham. “After Halloween’s over, retailers switch to Christmas.”

But this year, the carols inspired a lot of complaints, Smitham said, perhaps because social media have made it easier to get in touch. In particular, some said it was inappropriate to celebrate Christmas before Remembrance Day on November 11, when Canada and other countries honor veterans of the armed forces.

Getting an early start on Christmas cheer also has its defenders, however. “People are almost equally divided,” Smitham said. “It’s very difficult to please everybody.”

She emphasized that Shoppers will still play Christmas music this year - just a little later than usual.

In the United States, the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season is the Friday after Thanksgiving, known as “Black Friday”, but retailers have been pushing their promotions earlier, looking for an edge amid sluggish growth. In Canada, which celebrates Thanksgiving in October, most holiday merchandise rolls out gradually through November.

Shoppers has no plans to put away its Christmas products, many of which are already on display.

“You can’t not have Christmas merchandising at this time of year,” Smitham said. “There’s only, I think, 50 shopping days left until Christmas.”

Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Peter Galloway

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