Belfast Telegraph

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas as Belfast retailers gear up two months ahead of big day

Christmas decorations for sale in Paperchase
Christmas decorations for sale in Paperchase
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

Halloween costumes are still in the shops and ghosts and ghouls are all the rage, but what is even more scary is that preparations for the festive season have already begun.

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Belfast, where retailers like Debenhams and Marks & Spencer are filling their shelves with seasonal decorations and putting up Christmas trees.

And although it is not even the end of October, shoppers can avail of an array of baubles, tinsel, crackers and almost everything else that is needed for the celebrations on December 25.

But further afield, in a variety of stores in Co Antrim and Co Down for example, retailers are getting their advent calendars out over two weeks ahead of Halloween.

It may still be 64 sleeps until Christmas Day but designers at James Knox and Sons Ltd in Kilkeel are tapping into the old magical childhood emotions of excitement by displaying their extensive wares ahead of many of their competitors.

A post dated October 12 on Facebook reads: "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our shop this week with some beautiful room setting displays now on show. Why not call in for some inspiration."

But it is not just department stores and high street shops that have given Halloween the heave ho.

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Cards and stationery retailer Paperchase has two massive shelves full of Christmas cards as customers enter its Cornmarket shop in Belfast.

Not only have the Halloween greetings cards been consigned to the third shelf on the right as you walk in, they have also got a huge selection of small colourful trees, wreaths and other festive paraphernalia - including the obligatory Christmas unicorn.

It is no surprise that the high street has high hopes for the festive period, and festive products have been popping up on supermarket shelves since the end of August.

Many chains and independent retailers were selling 660g tubs of Celebrations, Cadbury Heroes and Quality Street in snowy packaging on special offer for just £4 even before children went back to school after the summer holidays.

Discount retailer B&M has also been stocking Christmas toys and wrapping paper as well as a range of goodies including Cadbury Mini Snow Balls, Oreo Biscuit Assortment boxes and white chocolate Snowy Fingers.

Christmas cards have been spotted at many branches of The Card Factory and other popular outlets for several weeks.

Meanwhile, restaurants and hotels have been taking bookings for Christmas parties and December 25 since pre-summer.

Belfast's ever-popular Christmas Market at City Hall is also returning in just a few weeks' time.

The festive favourite will run from Saturday, November 16 to Sunday, December 22, opening at 10am on the first day and closing at 6pm on the final day.

Belfast's Christmas lights will be switched on the same day as the market opens.

In July Selfridges in London unveiled its Christmas shop for those wanting some wintry cheer amid the summer heatwave.

The department store proudly claimed that it was again the first in the world to open its Christmas section on July 29 - a record 149 days ahead of the big day.

Belfast Telegraph