With the taste of fall not yet in the air, retailers in Greater Cincinnati have embraced the idea that the early bird gets the worm. Christmas season displays are sprouting in gift shops and department stores in a ritual that seems to begin earlier each year. (Only 98 shopping days left!) For storekeepers, the stakes are high. The traditional holiday consumer-spending binge represents a major component of annual sales for retailers. Despite a sluggish economy, the National Retail Federation forecasts holiday spending will top $217 billion this year - an increase of more than 5.7 percent over the anemic performance of 2002. That's good news for retailers such as Lazarus/Macy's, which earlier this week set up this holiday merchandise display at its downtown Cincinnati store.