Christmas seems to have come earlier than ever this year, with some retailers kicking off the season's promotions just days after the August bank holiday.

Packs of mince pies were on sale at selected Sainsbury's stores for 59p on 1 September 115 days before Christmas. This week, they were joined by Christmas puddings on a 3-for-2 deal and £5 tins of Quality Street. Decorations hit stores later this month.

Last week, Tesco and Asda started selling tins of sweets such as Cadbury Heroes, Cadbury Roses, Celebrations and Quality Street on two for £10 deals.

Hot on their heels, Morrisons started rolling out its range this Monday, focusing on confectionery initially, with biscuits, crisps & snacks and gift packs to follow over the next few weeks.

Tesco received its first proper visit from Santa on 8 September. Since then, it has been selling two Lindt milk chocolate Santas for £2 and two of its own-label Santas for £1. It also became the first retailer to sell selection boxes this week.

And while Asda continues to list its ready-made barbecue shopping lists on its online portal urging consumers to "light the charcoal, summer's here!" it is gearing up to roll out the rest of its range over the next few weeks.

Stocking Christmas products so early was "to the detriment of the spirit of Christmas", said David Meara, rector of St Brides Church and archdeacon of London. "With products sold in September, by the time December comes you're totally fed up," he said. "The danger is people won't appreciate Christmas for what it is as it becomes much less fresh and thought-provoking.".

Verdict analyst Malcolm Pinkerton added: "I think consumers are still hoping the summer hasn't gone."

But a Sainsbury's spokesman said retailers were only responding to consumer demand. "It helps them spread the cost of Christmas and manage their budgets."