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The networked economy is changing Christmas in July

Amid the sun-drenched days of July, a surprising holiday has gained popularity over the past 90 years: Christmas in July.

What was once a quirky summer camp tradition has now become a widespread phenomenon, with e-commerce retailers and digital streaming platforms seizing the opportunity to gain the engagement of connected consumers by capitalizing on their year-round, happy mood.

According to the North Carolina publication Our State, summer vacation in the 1930s began at the all-girls Keystone Camp, where participants celebrated a mock Christmas with Christmas carols, a Christmas tree and a Santa Claus.

“On a sweltering afternoon last July… the apparition of Santa Claus, whiskers complete, emerged from behind a curtain of green foliage. He was greeted by the enthusiastic giggles and cries of the scantily clad children,” says a November 1933 Washington Post report, highlighted on the summer camp's website. “There was a present for every little girl at Camp Keystone Camp. There was a magnificently decorated tree, a Christmas party – everything but snow.”

Over the decades, Christmas in July gained prominence when Paramount Pictures distributed a film of the same name in 1940. In the nearly century since then, it has become a commercial opportunity for retailers and entertainment providers looking to increase their summer sales and engagement.

Streaming services are getting involved.

On Monday (July 1), Netflix companion site Tudum released a list of 11 films streaming on the platform “to make Christmas in July merry and bright.” The Hallmark Channel offers a full lineup of Christmas in July movies throughout the month, with titles also streaming on the on-demand platform Hallmark Movies Now. When a PYMNTS writer searched for the holiday on Spotify, he was presented with a curated Christmas in July mix tailored to his tastes.

Every year, QVC, a pioneer in shoppable content, hosts its Christmas in July sale. The event offers a wide selection of holiday decorations, gifts and seasonal items, often at discounted prices. QVC enhances the experience with themed programming that features hosts dressed in Christmas attire and sets adorned with holiday decorations, creating a festive atmosphere that encourages impulse purchases.

Some retailers also try to capitalize on consumers' holiday spirit in July. Artificial Christmas tree retailer King of Christmas, for example, holds a sale on the holiday, and last year the American Christmas Tree Association used the holiday to boost consumers' winter purchasing plans.

Tourist attractions can also get into the Christmas spirit with special promotions. Last July, Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp., owner of Radio City Music Hall, celebrated the holiday by starting ticket sales for the Rockettes' year-end Christmas show.

Christmas in July has evolved from a quirky camping celebration to a major event in the retail and entertainment calendar, with streaming services and retailers using innovative and festive strategies to capture consumer interest and encourage interaction in the middle of summer.

As the connected economy evolves, Christmas in July is a testament to the creativity and adaptability of businesses, enabling them to respond to consumer desires all year round.