You've barely made a dent in your kids' newly acquired Halloween candy, but Christmas season is already here, if you take your cues from major retailers across New Jersey.

In fact, many stores have had their red-and-green displays and holiday merchandise greeting shoppers for a few weeks now.

"It's 68 degrees outside; I'm just not ready for it," said Matawan resident Sue Stubblebine, insisting holiday cheer shouldn't make its way to the shelves, walls and speakers until Thanksgiving.

But this time of year couldn't come soon enough for Natale Candido of Old Bridge. Once the calendar hits November, he said, "Christmas has begun."

"Right after Halloween, get right into it," he said smiling.

Rows of pre-lit artificial trees, countless boxes of icicle lights and a life-size Santa Claus display put Old Bridge resident Cheryl Brunner in the mood she's been craving all year.

"I love Christmas," she said. "I'm like a kid in a candy shop."

Brunner doesn't even bother to remove the Christmas lights from her home when the holiday passes. She keeps them up year-round, and she's just about ready to display her recently-purchased Lenox ornaments.

According to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail consulting firm Davidowitz & Associates, early October appears to be the time of year many retailers have settled on as the start of their holiday roll-outs.

He claims the Christmas push is "more intense" this year; stores are acting fast to get ahead of the competition and give brick-and-mortar locations some time to succeed before the major online shopping holiday rush.

"If you wait, you'll be selling the merchandise at 70 percent off," Davidowitz said.

Sign up for the WPG Talk Radio 95.5 Newsletter

Get South Jersey news and information e-mailed to you every week.