Supermarket customers have taken to social media to express disbelief after Woolworths and Coles quietly released Christmas food – a good 17 weeks ahead of the holiday.
In a post shared on the Woolworths Facebook Page, one man ranted about the find, stating that he had gone to his local Woolies last week and was surprised to find the mince pies and Christmas pudding for sale as early as August.
"Once upon a time there were four seasons... and you knew that Christmas was in December... now it's in August," the man said in his post addressed to the supermarket giant.
"Consumerism at its finest and you gotta thank the mega grocery stores for helping you remember that Christmas ain't about family or about faith for some... it's about buying products to fatten the shareholders' pockets," the man ranted.
In another post shared on Reddit, one user shared a photograph showing a variety of Woolworths Christmas puddings and mince pies.
"Spotted this morning at Woolies. Winter isn't even over yet," he said.
"Ah, yes, August. Traditionally the fifth month of Christmas according to retailers," one person responded sarcastically.
Shoppers defend early Christmas buys
Reactions to the post were mixed, with some shoppers defending the supermarkets for putting the holiday items on sale early.
"Seasonal products with good shelf life appear around now so that people living from one week's pay check to the next can put a little something aside each week and build up to giving a nice Christmas season to their families," one person rationalised.
"How is it that every single year, there are still people this stunned by capitalism doing its thing. You're gonna complain about Easter eggs being sold on Boxing Day next huh," another user commented.
"What’s wrong with treats being available at different times anyway? Nobody is forcing you to buy it. There are probably other people who love this stuff and are happy it's for sale. Not everything has to be for you."
One Redditor who works in retail related that Christmas and seasonal stock are ordered in June to have it on the floor around August or September.
"Seems bizarre from a customer POV but stores just want to start pushing these products to make their $ back and also get rid of the stuff before it reaches the expiration date," the person explained.
Why products are sold early
It isn't unusual for retailers to start selling seasonal items months ahead of a particular holiday.
For years, Coles and Woolworths, for instance, have also been known to release hot cross buns as early as Boxing Day.
In an earlier interview with Yahoo News Australia, Marketing and Consumer Behaviour expert Professor Gary Mortimer explained that there are operational reasons behind the early release of such items.
"Warehouses are full of Christmas inspired products and we want them out of warehouses and into air-conditioned supermarkets and department stores," he said.
"When demand for these products starts, it comes on quickly and retailers want to be ready."
He further explained that once seasonal areas in a shop clear out of particular merchandise, retailers are left with empty space that has to be filled with something, which is why hot cross buns are normally found in supermarkets right after Christmas.
Woolies revealed this week that many shoppers have begun preparing for the festive season, with 600,000 of its Everyday Rewards members taking advantage of the program's Bank For Christmas plan.
With customers already mapping out their holiday feasts, the supermarket says it's the perfect time for a selection of longer life products, including mince pies and Christmas puddings, to hit shelves this week.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.