We have the greatest deals ever so shop early!

We see and hear those types of headlines and advertisements everywhere these days. The term 'Black Friday' has become part of our language. And of course we've moved beyond 'Black Friday'. Christmas invades the stores about the middle of October now, maybe earlier.

It seems like the day is coming when, as soon as we see the last 4th of July fireworks display, the Christmas tree will be going up.

It's a new phenomena, this 'shop early, shop early, shop early'.

Or is it?

Hop into the Christmas time machine and travel back a century, exactly 100 years. It's Christmas, 1918.

And newspapers (kind of the internet of the day) are full of stores advertising to shop early for Christmas! Yes, it's true, even 'back in the old days' you were urged to hit the stores as early in the holiday season as you can. But there is a difference, this early shopping from 1918 as compared to 2018.

It wasn't the fantastic deals that brought folks out to shop early. It was the government.

Rules had been issued to retailer's by the Council of National Defense. You see, there was a war going on, a war we know as World War I. And the shopping early rules had more to do with saving coal and gasoline than it did with saving big money on that Teddy Bear for the kids. And it had a lot more to do with the fact that stores weren't going to be able to hire a lot of seasonal workers to help with the holiday rush.

Those seasonal workers just weren't around. They were in Europe.

There were shortages of just about everything, so both retailers and the public were asked to follow some rules during this Christmas season 100 years ago.

  1. Sales forces are not to be increased above the yearly average, nor store hours lengthened beyond the normal.
  2. The public to be urged to buy only useful gifts (except for young children).
  3. The public to be urged to buy Christmas gifts during October and November.
  4. Deliveries to be restricted, and the public urged to carry packages wherever possible.

You can read the entire story about the most unusual Christmas of 1918 here at the Library of Congress website. And get that Christmas shopping done early!

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