Pandemic prompting Okanagan residents to put up more Christmas decorations and sooner

A lighting consultant in Kelowna has been installing Christmas lights for almost a decade.

This year, though, Chris Campbell of Mr. Winter’s Holiday Lights has never seen a season quite like this.

“We are basically twice as busy as we were last year at this time,” owner Chris Campbell told Global News.

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Campbell said business has doubled due to the pandemic keeping many people close to home.

“People are staying home,” he said. “A lot of the snowbirds that go away, they’re staying home.”

Not only are people decorating more and creating more elaborate displays, but they’re doing so a lot earlier in the season.

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“This year, we had more people doing early installs than previous years,” Campbell said. “We had requests coming in mid-September.”

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Retailers are also reporting a significant increase in Christmas business.

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Staff at the Home Hardware store in Kelowna said customers started asking about Christmas decor before it was even out on store shelves.

“About a month and a half ago people started coming and buying lights,” said staff member Cherylyn Cameron.

“Even when we didn’t have Christmas set up, people would come up and ask ‘When are you going to start putting the lights up, when will you put your wreaths up?’ and that.”

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Customer Pauline Harmatny said she’s not usually a big Christmas decorator, but this year is different.

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“Everything has been cancelled. We just found out that our Christmas play was cancelled so it’s another thing,” Harmatny said.

“So I just thought what can I do to cheer myself up during this time and so I just thought let’s just add some more Christmas lights.”

Read more: Coronavirus Christmas: Canadians should celebrate outdoors, virtually, experts say

A sentiment and trend that appears to be catching on.

“People are coming in and they’re commenting because of what’s happening with COVID. ‘I want to decorate, I want to make my house look beautiful, I want to bring some joy into other people’s lives’” said Cameron.

For some, kicking off the Christmas season a lot sooner could also be a way to provide a psychological boost during what many consider a dark and bleak time.

“Christmas is also about the end of the year, too,” said Cameron, “and they just want 2020 over with.”

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