Audience Shot #27: The C-word loses its taboo — how we’ve decided it’s OK to discuss Christmas early this year

With the nights drawing in and local lockdowns abounding Brits are looking ahead to the festive season

The Beyond Collective
4 min readOct 21, 2020
Illustration by Josefina Schargorodsky

Discussing Christmas during October just isn’t something you do in polite company — unless the world has been turned on its head by a virus, lockdowns, second waves, tiers, Covid alert levels, social bubbles and trying to work out if you’re allowed to visit your mum. Then, apparently, all bets are off.

We all need something to look forward to and right now it looks like, for a lot of people, that something is Christmas. We know that some things aren’t going to be the same.

But we’re adapting, nonetheless.

One part of the Covid financial picture is those who’ve been severely impacted. But another part is those households who’ve managed to keep earning only to find themselves with far fewer things to spend it on — holidays curtailed, less reason to get new clothes and accessories, a big reduction in cinema, restaurant and pub visits, and very little live entertainment available.

No wonder then that plenty of people plan to go big when it comes to Christmas — especially given that smaller celebrations will likely be the norm. The British Retail Consortium is reporting a rise in retail sales during September, saying there are ‘signs that consumers are starting their Christmas shopping earlier this year’.

Deck the halls with vegan sausage roll ornaments

It’s not unusual to find the shops filled with Christmas decorations in October, of course, but look at this data from Google Trends. Usually interest in the first week of October has a relative value of around 16 (the peak of popularity gets a score of 100). But in the first week of October 2020 the value is already up to 20.

If you’re used to having the best looking front door come December, it looks like the competition is heating up this year if the jump in searches is anything to go by.

Further proof that it’s happening earlier this year. Here’s someone tweeting about tree ornaments in October and not receiving a single reply that it’s ‘TOO SOON’ (the responses do suggest that Paperchase’s vegan sausage roll decoration has a lot of fans so if you want one, buy it now).

Eating our way through the misery

On a similar theme, festive fare. Just as with decorating, Google Trends shows that searches for ‘Christmas food’ are way ahead in October 2020 than for the same period at any point in the past five years.

Some people might think that the first mince pie should wait until December or at the very least late November. Marks & Spencer, though, chose October to unveil news of the Percy Pig Mince Pie mashup. It was the end of days for some.

Others felt vastly differently.

M&S isn’t the only brand to decide that a yuletide brand extension is the way to wrap up 2020. McVitie’s is giving us two new flavours of chocolate digestives: gingerbread and Christmas pudding (which were fetching a pretty penny on eBay at the time of writing) while Mars is treating us to the Winter Spice Twix.

These reviewers declared the Christmas pudding digestive was making them feel ‘Christmassy in the mouth’.

It was all a bit too much for others.

With all this pre-empting going on we’ve got just one question: is it too late to invent the Countdown to Advent calendar?



The Beyond Collective

Bite-sized people observations from The Beyond Collective, the independent creative group for the Audience Age