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NEW YORK -- "Christmas Creep" is the term for how retailers seem to keep bumping up the day they start promoting Christmas each year. It's not just for stores that barely have the decorative pumpkins out before they bring in the Santas, now the Christmas Creep is in your inbox.

Fifteen percent of top online retailers have already started the holidays in their email campaigns as of September 6, according to the2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season study released by Responsys. That's up from 11 percent at this same time in the past two years. And once they start perking up, they only increase exponentially. By Halloween, expect your inbox to be quite spooked by the Christmas Creep. It will be fully haunted by Thanksgiving.

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Online retailers that began emailing in October last year have already launched their campaigns, said Christopher Donald, a strategist for the Inbox Group email marketing agency.

Retailers are constantly trying to edge each other out to be the one who gets to the shopper's pocketbook first. The earlier you can grab shoppers, the more they'll spend with you if you can grab them before the pursestrings get tight as the holidays get closer, said Donald. This leads to a veritable arms race with retailers emailing earlier and earlier each year.

If you're sick of it all and want to trim back the Christmas Creep's visits from your inbox, make sure to be selective when giving out your main email address to companies. And if you must give it out, consider using a disposable one, like one offered by mailinator.com. Gmail users can also use this handy trick.

Email marketers believe, however, that people are happy to see the Christmas Creep. "You might see a small amount of people annoyed," said Donald, but "most people think, hey, I can get these great discounts even earlier."

Believe what you want, spam man -- we'll be clicking "unsubscribe."

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