CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It may seem like Christmas items come earlier and earlier each year.

Many stores have Christmas decorations just past the Halloween items.

"Yes. I believe it's too early for the Christmas items. It gets earlier every year," said shopper Shannon Willard. "That makes Christmas more about commercial aspect; how much money we can spend, rather than the true meaning of Christmas."

Retail experts say this time of year is crucial for stores.

"It's going to be a good year. For many retailers, 20 percent or higher of their annual income comes during the holiday season," said UNCC Belk College of Business Lecturer Cindy Fox. "Statistics show 40 percent of consumers have already started their shopping, or finish their shopping by the end of October."

The National Retail Federation expects a 3.6-4 percent increase in spending this year. That equals a total of around $680 billion.

Some shoppers don't seem to mind the early start.

"Merry Christmas," said Lindsey Fisher. "Never too early for Christmas. I think it's a great time to celebrate. It brings up incredible feelings about giving and loving to others."