name='yankfilmbuff']Pardon my ignorance, but what is pancake day?
As for stores jumping the gun on various holidays, it's the same in the States. There are stores with Christmas goods out already. When I was a kid, we never saw a Christmas display until the day after our Thanksgiving holiday which is the last Thurday in November. That was always the "offcial" start of the Christmas season.
It really got bad earlier this year. Most schools let out for summer break on the third Friday in June. This year, some of the major chains like Wal-Mart had their "back-to-school" displays up the next day.