The festive season is in full swing!  The shops are decked with holly and Christmas trees, the jolly laugh of Santa can be heard echoing in the malls, as are the unmistakable excited voices of kids that only Christmas brings.

It seems we just can’t wait for Christmas shopping!

“We started decorating very early this year,” Katie Anderson, an employee of Macy’s explains.  “The first tree was up the second week of October!”

As you set out on your Christmas shopping spree, there is a little more behind the Christmas decorations and a man with a fake beard.  There is a deeper psychological reasoning behind the shinny decorated branches of the fresh smelling tree.

Dr Kit Yarrow, an award-winning consumer psychologist, wrote an article in Psychology Today saying, “Psychological signals (decorations) work around our rational brains and they greatly influence our shopping behaviours.”  Dr Yarrow goes on to explain how the holiday season can alter our four senses to spend more money.


The bright colours that follow the decorations influence the customer’s moods and perception.  Especially the colours of red and green.  Dr Yarrow described a study with restaurant waiters where one group wore predominately red as part of their uniform, while the others wore a neutral colour.  Those wearing red received a 14 – 26% higher tip than the others.

The colour green is associated with luck, money and creativity.  The green hue can be quite effective in encouraging us to open up our wallets and giving us a new confidence to be more creative when choosing Christmas gifts.


“Smells make a direct hit to the emotional centre of our brain.”  Dr Kit Yarrow explains, “it’s no surprise that Bloomingdales, Jimmy Choo, Hugo Boss, Victoria Secret and scores of other retailers use scents to stimulate positive and associative moods to enhance our perception of their brands and products.”

Many studies have proven that specific scents can either influence us consumers to spend more, or even adapt a different point of view to products.  During the festive season, it’s not unusual to notice the scent of pine wafting throughout retailers’ stores, creating a feeling of happiness and nostalgia.

Other stores will add in a peppermint scent.  This gives a sense of excitement, enticing us to be more forthcoming with our money than we otherwise would be.


Sound is a more obvious one.  With songs like, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” blasting through the malls, remind us that Christmas Day is just around the corner.  Again, prompting us all to get into the festive spirit – and spend more.


Surprisingly, a person is more likely to buy an item after touching the item.  Dr Yarrow explains, “this is why most retailers will carefully design their store with merchandise roadblocks and tactile displays.  We’re naturally drawn towards the centre of a display (where retailers often place the pricier items!)”

Those strategically positioned items are just too much for consumers and we can’t resist to need to touch.

Although retailers play a large part in starting the festive season so early, we consumers play our part as well.  In the US, 90% of Americans are just itching celebrate Christmas.

And after a year like 2020, who can blame them!

To get people excited and merry for the festive season, stores roll out their Christmas decorations as soon as the ghosts of Halloween are tucked up in bed.

So, when you’re on your next Christmas shopping mission, look for the sights, sound, smells and feelings.  Are they working?

If you find that you’re not winning the battle with your money, we are ready to help you create the right mindset around your money goals.

When you are ready to talk, we are here to listen and help.  Drop us an email or click on this link to find a day and time that suits you to have a chat with us.  We’re really very friendly and best of all, it’s absolutely free!

This was curated from an article by Brendan Montes, an journalist with Lariat Saddleback College.