It's beginning to look and sound a lot like Christmas in South Mississippi as decorations go up and carols play in local stores and national retailers begin announcing their plans for Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales.
While some shoppers grumble about the early appearance of decorations seven weeks before Christmas, it's basically the same timetable as last year.
Once trick-or-treating was over last weekend, crews started decorating Edgewater Mall in Biloxi with snowflakes and snowmen.
"We always do it the day after Halloween," said Terry Powell, mall manager.
Santa arrives at 10 a.m. Saturday, parachuting from a plane over Edgewater Mall. If rain prevents his jump, he'll go to Plan B.
Certain to show
"He'll get here," said Michelle Rogers, assistant manager of Edgewater Mall. His Santa seat awaits at the center of the mall, and Rogers said, "He'll be here through Dec. 24."
At JC Penney in the mall, employees hung snowflakes Wednesday -- the day carols began to play,
Store manager Norma Myles said people have started Christmas shopping. "A lot of them are purchasing gift cards," she said. Santa will be at Penney's photo department from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday for holiday pictures.
What's different this year is the forecast for a 'green' Christmas.
More money on the Coast
"Mississippi Power is going to provide a huge boost to the economy," Powell said.
Refund checks will start going out next week to many of the utility's customers. Those who chose to take credit on their bills will have that extra money they won't have to put toward their power bills to do some Christmas shopping.
"November and December both are going to be very good months," Powell said.
Dillard's at Edgewater Mall is one of the stores that won't open on Thanksgiving Day, joining GameStop, Sam's Club, Staples and other stores that announced they'll give their employees the holiday off. Michael's craft stores and Old Navy have already announced a 4 p.m. opening on Thanksgiving.
Jean Trevino of Biloxi bought her first Christmas gift Wednesday at the mall and browsed through the ornaments at one of the kiosks.
"I like the elves and ferries," she said. Before Hurricane Katrina she decorated her home with a collection of ferries from England. "I lost every one," she said, and she and her husband swam for their lives when their home was demolished with them in it.
"You don't realize what you've got 'til Christmas comes along," she said. She's buying replacement decorations a bit at a time.
Time to get ready
At My Oh My store in the mall, employees Mary Marchioni and Carolyn Middleton are decorating theme trees with elves, nautical decorations, Santas and a sparkling pink ballerina tree.
"It's fun," said Marchioni. Christmas decorations and merchandise are coming in every day, but shoppers are waiting for their Christmas club checks and the refund checks, Middleton said.
Shoppers may have extra money to spend this year but she said, "Everyone's looking for the bargain."