Each year, it seems, the holiday season starts earlier. The decorations, the music, the Black Friday deals. So it makes sense that the finger pointing and accusations that retailers are anti-Christmas starts earlier too.

That first shot was fired by the American Family Association, calling for "a limited two-month boycott of Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, the three stores owned by San Francisco-based Gap Inc., over the company's censorship of the word "Christmas."

The War on Christmas is on.

Except as Los Angeles Times columnist Dan Neil points out, the Gap did use the word Christmas in it's ads.




The Gap just didn't use Christmas exclusively. "Go Christmas, go Hanukkah, go Kwanzaa, go solstice. . . . " goes the song.

There's little need to argue semantics or religion here. But does the AFA's campaign and boycott effect shopping habits? Is anyone forgoing a good deal or something they really want because a sales association says,"Happy Holidays" instead of, "Merry Christmas?"

Apparently not. Notes Neil in his column: "If you look at the history of the organization's boycotts -- often involving punitive actions against companies that support gay rights -- you'll see that they have no commercial impact. Actually, these boycotts seem to be good for business: In the decade of the AFA's boycott against Disney, which ended in 2006, the world's largest entertainment conglomerate's revenue roughly doubled to $34 billion."

As fellow Walletpop blogger Sarah Gilbert wrote at Daily Finance in February, sometimes a boycott backfires. Especially if it's being called for by the AFA.

Such was the case when the AFA announced boycott of Pepsi, McDonald's and Ford for these companies support of, or involvement with, gay rights groups. Both Pepsi and McDonald's are doing fine, growing even, in a bad economy. Ford's financial troubles were more likely tied to the collapse of the auto industry than the denial of dollars from AFA supporters. In fact, of all the auto companies, Ford is recovering the quickest, posting a billion dollar profit in the third quarter of 2009.

Does the AFA dictate where you shop?

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