ARE GOOGLE SEARCHES TURNING BACK THE CHRISTMAS CLOCK?

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Working in PR, I’m used to chatting about Christmas with journalists during summer, as they frantically compile gift guides in time for print deadlines. These loom months before the Coca-Cola advert is aired and the rest of the population accepts that Yuletide is upon us.

Typically, it’s shoppers complaining that Christmas comes earlier each year, as department stores become adorned with decorations and overpriced gifts. However, according to today’s news, they may have a point – statisticians have confirmed it.

A paper from the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) has revealed that the festive season begins in late August, two-and-a-half months earlier than in 2007.

Nathan Cunningham – data analyst and runner-up in the Young Statisticians Writing Competition held by the RSS and Significance magazine – examined Google searches containing Christmas themed words such as ‘presents’, ‘Santa Claus’ and ‘elf’. He then used his findings to calculate the probability of each week being defined as ‘Christmas’ or ‘not Christmas’ over the past seven years.

According to his paper, Does Christmas really come earlier every year?, it began on 11 November in 2007, 12 October in 2008, 30 August in 2009, 3 October in 2010, 11 September in 2011, 19 August in 2012 and 25 August in 2013.

So, what does this mean for us? Well, before you panic that your tree isn’t up yet and head for the turkey aisle, Nathan is keen to stress that the results of his research reflect a “marked change in our mindsets to thoughts of Christmas, and not the beginning of the full-blown holiday season”.

Despite that, if our minds are turning to all things Christmas earlier in the year, there’s a possibility that magazines and shops will pick up on this and follow suit – never ones to miss the opportunity for a promotion or sale.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Christmas. After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly and who doesn’t like to eat, drink and be merry? That said, here’s hoping that this paper isn’t a sign of things to come – I’d quite like to enjoy my summer holidays without fretting over the amount of gifts that need buying!

Are you crazy for Christmas, or do you have a case of the bah-humbugs?

SOPHIE

@sophiemarygreen