Group Publishes List of Chains That Are ‘Against Christmas’

Discussion
Dec 06, 2011
George Anderson

I admit it. I don’t ‘get’ groups such as the American Family Association (AFA) that lead protests against retailers for failing to adequately use the word Christmas in store displays and advertising.

The reason behind the protests, as I understand it, is the strongly held belief that the continued use of the word Christmas in commercial settings helps everyone to remember what the holiday is all about. Somehow the use of terms such as "Holiday Sale" is leading to the removal of Christ from Christmas.

Many retailers have been compliant in the face of protests. Instead of perhapspointing out that individuals have a personal relationship with Christ and therefore are the only ones that can take him out of the holiday (or any other day of the year), they hoist Christmas banners and happily take in all the dollars they can from believers and nonbelievers alike.

The AFA recently published a "Naughty or Nice" list to identify retailers that were "for" and "against" Christmas. The organization wants its members and those who support its cause to spend money with those retailers who are "for" Christmas.

Among the chains identified as "against" Christmas were Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble, Family Dollar, Foot Locker, Gap Stores, L.L. Bean, Limited Brands, Office Depot, Old Navy, RadioShack, Staples, Supervalu and Victoria’s Secret.

AFA said a chain is designated as such because it used "Christmas sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it."

Companies identified as marginal on Christmas included 1-800-Flowers.com, Bath & Body Works, Cooking.com, Dollar Tree, Hy-Vee Stores, Safeway, Starbucks, UncommonGoods.com and Whole Foods.

Discussion Questions: How closely tied is the extensive use of the word Christmas to retailing success during the holiday selling season? What would you do if your company was listed by the American Family Association as being “Against Christmas?”

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

26 Comments on "Group Publishes List of Chains That Are ‘Against Christmas’"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Bob Phibbs
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I’m with you George. I don’t get it. We live in America — freedom of religion. It’s not a Christian, Jewish, Muslim or atheist thing — it’s an American thing.

Just like the best brands show a variety of lifestyles, old, young, men, women, black, white, gay, straight.

They understand something I’ve said in my keynotes for years, “They’re all purple and their money’s green.”

David Biernbaum
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

This is complete insanity. In retail, no one is “for” or “against” Christmas. It’s not just political correctness, it’s also good business. Pleeeeze. Retailers know that people are buying gifts at this time of year for a number of holidays.

Kevin Graff
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I don’t ‘get’ these groups either. Nothing better to do with their time? Wouldn’t the time and energy be better served doing the ‘good’ they are so capable of?

As to the question of what I would do if my retail company was targeted by this group? Probably the same as every other retailer. If the movement started to significantly impact my sales, I’d change my approach to meet the customer’s needs/demands. If they want more red or blue coloured items, I would buy more of them too. Just follow the path to the money. (Just be cautious of the exceedingly vocal minority, and look for the facts.)

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

OK — I’m doing my holiday shopping (Chanukah shopping for my family, Christmas for a lot of my friends) at the naughty stores, but only because Victoria’s Secret is on the naughty list, where it obviously belongs.

I’m sure there are people who believe that because a store is on the nice list, they support Christian values and they should shop there. Likewise, there are people who will shop the naughty stores because they believe Christmas is a religious event and not a holiday sale and want to support stores who go in that direction. And finally, I’m betting that most people could care less and will shop where they want for whatever reason they want.

Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
9 years 5 months ago

Honestly, it would depend on where my stores were located — if I had a lot of stores in the Bible Belt I might try to get more “Christmas” messaging, but if my stores were in the Northeast, West Coast etc. I wouldn’t expect any major backlash.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I’m thinking about making my own list…those groups that are “Against separation of Church and State.”

Not worth much more comment than that — except to say “AFA, go away.”

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
9 years 5 months ago

Christmas is a holiday with long established roots. A good many Americans like to be bombarded with specific Christmas references during the holiday season. Words such as “Christmas” are the most powerful, albeit safe, drug used at this time of the year for most shoppers. “Holiday” comes in second.

No company should want to be against motherhood or Christmas save for the companies serving the growing number of people who are willing to be against Christmas. That’s where the irony comes in, isn’t it?

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

As a Jew whose holiday of Hanukkah falls on and around December 25, I take offense to AFA’s actions. Last I looked, America is not a theocracy, so why punish retailers for being inclusive? If my company was listed as being “Against Christmas” I would ignore the bullies, while creating a warm, inviting atmosphere, which is truly symbolic of the holidays, in my store.

Doug Fleener
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I wouldn’t do a thing if my company was listed, because it isn’t going to make a difference in sales.

At the same time, I would advise independent retailers to use Christmas and Chanukah in their stores, windows, and marketing. Celebrating all of the holidays has to lead to more sales.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

The interesting thought that went through my mind is that when I saw a list like this, I would either take a reverse action and ignore the list, or shop at those stores that recognize that Christmas is not about buying stuff but about one’s personal beliefs.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

OK. I’ll play contrarian.

Hanukkah and Christmas (heck, even Kwanzaa) are the holidays that cannot be named, it seems. Retailers have no issues mentioning Labor Day, Memorial Day, President’s Day, and other secular holidays, but when it comes to religious observances they freeze up. There are still some of us out there who purchase gifts for loved ones to celebrate the birth of Jesus; why don’t retailers acknowledge it?

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

My comment is to see Max’s comment, and ditto. Let’s get over this and stop making this an us against them thing.

Jonathan Sapp
Guest
Jonathan Sapp
9 years 5 months ago

The “real” issue here is the the AFA and others are of the mistaken opinion that the US is a “Christian nation,” which it isn’t. Because of this belief, they continually come up with idiocies like the supposed “war against Christmas.” They don’t care about the realities of the retail sector. It’s just dogma.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
9 years 5 months ago
Do a bit of searching and you’re likely to find a list of merchants that are supposedly for or against any number of issues. Over the years, I’ve run across lists for senior citizen-friendly retailers, gay-friendly retailers, green retailers, and those stocking American made products, products for Christians and products for atheists. What’s undeniable about such lists is that they do appeal to a certain consumer, i.e., the groups’ core constituents. In effect, the lists serve two purposes. One, they’re a service to those who espouse the same beliefs or lifestyles as the list generator. Two, they’re a bit of PR for the generator, helping place their issues in front of the public while positioning the group as the standard bearer for all such related issues. But beyond the media attention that soon evaporates and the buying-guide service they provide believers, I don’t recall seeing any real evidence that such lists really impact the buying behaviors of the vast majority of consumers. That said, retailing is undoubtedly one of the fronts on any number of… Read more »
Tracey Croughwell
Guest
Tracey Croughwell
9 years 5 months ago

Ahh, ridiculous on so many levels. If we were truly just celebrating Jesus’ birthday, it would probably not fall anywhere near December 25. Christmas was combined with the pagan winter solstice to help sell Christianity to pagans. So really, the date has been used as a sales tool for thousands of years!

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
9 years 5 months ago

What the real message here is that the media, relentlessly looking for the sensational and lurid, has managed to provide a huge reach to an over-reaction from a fringe group with way too much time on their hands. You watch the melodrama formerly known as the news every night and think “Aren’t there enough important things to talk about?”/

David Slavick
Guest
David Slavick
9 years 5 months ago

Using the word or not using the word has no impact on success or failure in this Christmas selling season. There I said it. Reacting to reactionaries does — it takes your eye off the ball — even for a moment…not good. Likewise, it does keep PR departments busy along with employees at these companies on the “list” sending e-mails either for or against the communications plan/positioning of the Holiday. Media outlets will pick up on it to perpetuate this non-nonsensical debate which in turn gives those on the “naughty” list free PR — any PR is better than none at all. For AFA, it helps raise the blood pressure of their advocates and supporters who willingly hand over donations to keep the enterprise viable. Why does AFA do it? To promote the message of Christ and the glory of the savior? Or, rather, to collect cold hard cash off the spin? Joy to the World!

Roger Saunders
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Personally, my Christian upbringing and instincts tell me that the American Family Association is overstepping their bounds and charter. If they have a constructive message to share with retailers, send them that message with their literature. They are a 501 (C), non-profit. They have the funds.

Lots of holidays at this time of the year. Christmas is certainly the largest of them in the United States. To lay out this one is “For” and this one is “Against” on the laps of retailers is decidedly un-Christian on American Family Association’s part.

Merry Christmas.

Warren Thayer
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I do not believe the extensive use of the word Christmas is closely tied to retailing success during the holiday season. If my company were listed as being “against Christmas” I’d pity the people who are so filled with fear, but I’d take no action. Some of what I call Taliban Christians would do well to actually read the words of St. Francis and Jesus, and other great thinkers. They’d find love, compassion and inclusion rather than the thinly veiled bigotry, fear and hatred we so often see from them. Sad.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

A Jewish executive from one of my client companies once cheerfully referred to himself as a “retail Jew.” He grew up in his parent’s retail business, decorating Christmas trees and dusting off nativities in stores even as the family celebrated Hanukkah at home.

His “it’s all good” attitude speaks to the business opportunity but as the U.S. becomes more diverse, will future protests come from new majorities?

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

The AFA would have even less influence than it already does if people wouldn’t publicize their efforts (HINT HINT); that having been said, those who venture to their site, will find a topic broached — “The greediest company in America” — that I raised earlier (in connection with stores being open on Thanksgiving): stores actually being open on Christmas itself…yes, the war is intensifying.

Mark Burr
Guest
9 years 5 months ago
I suppose every misguided organization is entitled to their opinion on most anything. Lists, boycotts, PR stunts, etc., by organizations like this one are a waste of time and energy. Obviously, they haven’t read or don’t understand Matthew 7:3. If so, they might understand their work would be best spent being for things rather than against. Those who believe know and understand that the holiday is one to celebrate the birth of a child that changed everything — everything. This is the good news for which they may find a better use of their time and energy. The focus of this work is in reality much less about those who support the word “Christmas” being used in just the right amount. Its much more about a judgement of whether or not its use meets a specific criteria dictated by them. The focus is harm and not a focus of good. If it were not so, the word boycott would not be found any where on their page. That being said, I believe the AFA has… Read more »
Diane Aull
Guest
Diane Aull
9 years 5 months ago

Ummmm… Do I have this right? Retailers get on the “nice” list for using the word “Christmas” (because it contains the word “Christ” — keeping the “Christ” in “Christmas”) instead of the more secular and non-denominational “holidays” or “holiday season,” correct? So… are they saying Christians should approve of using Christ’s name to sell product? Seriously?

I think they got their lists backwards somewhere in there… either that, or they’re operating with some significantly messed-up theology in place.

But in any case, I owe them a big “thank you,” for saving me time and helping me conserve gas by furnishing me with a handy list of stores to patronize — the “naughty” and “marginal” list look like they’ll suit me very well.

Dustin Guinee
Guest
Dustin Guinee
9 years 5 months ago

For the AFA to say a company is against Christmas because they don’t use the term ‘Christmas’ in their marketing is absurd. Anybody in advertising or marketing knows that when it comes to December and the holiday season, the last thing you want to do is alienate Jews, Muslims and other groups from taking part in the American tradition of consumerism during this time of year. I don’t think there is a single retailer in America that is ‘against’ Christmas. How could you be? That is not a sustainable business strategy. Q4 means profits for retailers and the marketing language will continue to address universal appeal with ‘Happy Holidays’ and ‘Seasons Greetings’ and not so much ‘Merry Christmas’. If the AFA is taking a stand on this issue, I’d love to see what they would do if a retailer launched an entire marketing campaign for ‘Happy Ramadan’.

Nathan Pohlman
Guest
Nathan Pohlman
9 years 5 months ago

Marginalizing the AFA like many of these comments do shows that apparently none of these marketers have faced an AFA boycott lately. Walgreens responded within 24 hours when they were recently deluged with hundreds of thousands of emails when it was shown that they didn’t use the word Christmas one time in their advertising. AFA has over a million members so advertisers would be foolish to underestimate their influence. I don’t think we would see this kind of vitriol towards a gay or lesbian advocacy group so it makes me wonder if the real bigots are the marketers because not many shoppers tend to be overly offended by seeing marketing that includes Christmas in it. Last time I checked the holiday that almost everyone gets off work for is Christmas day, not any of the other religious holidays.

William Passodelis
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I hate to be a scrooge and I am a Christian person in my faith tradition, however, two things drive “Holiday” sales — a retailer could have a sale for Islamic New Year and IF the merchandise is on trend and currently desired by numerous people — AND/OR the PRICES are staunchly reduced, and good, then the sale would be a HUGE success, and no customer would care that the sale was for Islamic New Year because we are in the Holiday buying season. Unfortunately, I do not believe that for a majority of consumers, the inclusion of “Christmas” has any effect, even though in America — it IS Christmas, which majorly drives most of the buying we see at end of the year.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How much more or less likely is a retailer to achieve success during the holiday selling season as a result of using the word Christmas?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...