With 149 days still to go before Christmas, London's Harrods and Selfridges department stores have launched their earliest ever Christmas displays.
"Sales in previous years have proved that customers are ready to start thinking about Christmas in the summer, especially visitors from overseas," Selfridges said.
Advertisement"This year, Selfridges? international visitors have already increased by over 40 percent (from the same period last year), which has encouraged Selfridges to reconsider its traditional August Christmas shop opening, bringing it forward to July for the first time."
Last year Selfridges? Christmas section doubled it sales compared to 2009 in its first week of trade, when more than 2,000 baubles were sold.
"Tourists from countries including China, Russia, Asia, India and USA see choosing a beautiful Christmas decoration as the perfect memento from a foreign trip flock to Selfridges during the summer months," said the company, which has its flagship store on Oxford Street.
Geraldine James, Selfridges Christmas shop buying manager said: ?Christmas is coming earlier each year. I can see a time when we offer a capsule Christmas collection throughout the year."
London's Evening Standard cited Selfridges as saying many tourists from the Middle East had asked to buy Christmas decorations before going home for Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, starting on Monday.
A Harrods spokesman said its Christmas display, which like Selfridges' mini shop opened on Thursday, aims to respond to demand from tourists visiting the UK from June to August.
To mark the launch of Christmas World, the Kensington store's Father Christmas served ice cream in a choice of 12 "yuletide" flavours.
Harrods was bought last year by the investment arm of Qatar's soverign wealth fund.