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Eggs-traordinary... Easter chocolate on shelves days after Christmas

Online debate sparked by stacks of confectionery appearing 101 days before holiday

The Christmas sweet tins are barely empty and the selection boxes are still piled high, but stores in Northern Ireland are already selling Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies – nearly four months before the spring holiday.

In fact, shoppers starting spotting Cadbury Mini Eggs on the shelves weeks before December 25.

Some shoppers have bemoaned the move by retailers, which appears to have become an annual occurrence in recent years, prompting them to complain that they have just celebrated Christmas. 

Easter will be marked ‘late’ this year, on April 17 — 101 days away, but big retail names are already stocking them.

Belfast Telegraph political editor Suzanne Breen sparked the debate on Twitter after posting an image of shelves at a Tesco store full of Easter confectionery — from larger Cadbury Easter eggs to smaller filled ones such as the chocolate-maker’s caramel range.

“Come on Tesco, this is ridiculous! Plenty of us still have our Christmas decorations up and you’re trying to flog us Easter eggs. It’s 3 ½ months away. Let’s try to not race through the year,” she said.

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Tesco has defended the move, insisting it is only selling a limited range at this stage.

Meanwhile, others on Twitter pointed out that it wasn’t just the major retailer who has jumped on the Easter bandwagon early, but multiple national high street names were also on board.

“Not only Tesco, Asda has them out, so has B&M. I actually bought one in B&M before Christmas!,” one Twitter user replied.

Another person showed an image of Mini Eggs and Creme Eggs taken in a local shop in the days leading up to Christmas Day.

One fellow Twitter user sympathised with Suzanne’s post, saying: “They don’t give people a chance. Any wonder the world is whizzing by. #slowdown.”

Not everyone, however, was unhappy with the switch from boxes of mince pies to Easter eggs, with one chocolate lover remarking they took the opportunity to start celebrating the spring festival early, insisting it was an “impulse purchase” at the till.

Baffled shoppers have reported Easter confectionery on sale in stores across the UK, leading to social media speculation that retailers were using the products to fill empty shelves due to Brexit-related supply chain issues.

Pre-Brexit chocolate eggs have appeared on supermarket shelves in recent years, and typically stores begin selling Christmas selection boxes and tins weeks before Halloween.

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, told the Belfast Telegraph it is simply part of the retail calendar now, given there is consumer demand for them.

“It’s just one of those things. I think like Christmas, Easter is starting earlier and earlier every year,” he said.

“I suppose it is quite early and people may think, ‘Gosh, we’ve just got Christmas over and we’re into Easter already’.”

He continued: “I think there always is demand, otherwise they wouldn’t put them on the shelves. Obviously, there are consumers who want to buy them fairly early and starting early.”

In response a spokesperson for Tesco said: “It’s a few weeks until customers are able to choose from our full range of Easter products.

“However, we know some of our customers like to buy their eggs early so we have started selling a small selection in some of our stores.”

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