Are you ready for Halloween in the summer?

There's nothing wrong with "working ahead" in any field. Whether it's an upcoming school paper for students or trying to meet deadlines at work, it's always a good idea to get a jump on projects. Getting a head start on anything reduces stress, but sometimes I wonder if that supposed "stress reduction" always works. Anyway,  the "pre-planning concept" applies to the retail store world. I learned that strategy when working in the drug store world while in high school and college. Just as the Fourth of July was coming to a close, we were setting up Back-to-School displays even though back then, school did not start until after Labor Day. It always seemed to me that no one was getting a jump start on Back-to-School in late July/early August. OK and then as soon as Labor Day ended, it was Halloween candy stuffing the aisles. Do you get the picture? The retail world has always been thinking well ahead when it came to their marketing plans.

Flash forward more than 30 years and these days, we have retail chaos. Today, retail planning has gone on steroids.  Indeed the world marketplace is far more advanced and competitive. We are in a 24/7 global environment where everyone must "think outside the box" in order to compete. The latest example of stronger marketing strategies are all of those seasonal Halloween stores which did not just crop up after Labor Day. No, these Halloween stores popped up in early to mid-August. Certainly business has "gotta do what it's gotta do" to compete. I get that, but c'mon, this was August.

Even here in the Southeastern United States, it's hard to think about Halloween in August. Obviously it's a no-brainer to say that August is for vacations, pools or sheltering ourselves from the hot and humid outdoors. Halloween is for cool, crisp evenings where we disguise ourselves as someone else. In August, we douse ourselves in buckets of ice for causes such as ALS. At Halloween time, we think about taking the younger ones out trick or treating while sipping on hot chocolate, provided that we finally cooled off enough for that in Metro Atlanta. In recent years in August, the area kids go back to their presumably air-conditioned schools. In late October, we are sometimes just starting to crank up our furnaces and look for those sweaters.

It has to be some kind of feat to imagine what the future seasons' trends will become. Is this one component in a marketing degree? Perhaps, but it is quite a talent to imagine what the public will like in the future. Still, "planning ahead" is tough. I'm sure that many who work in the retail sector must overcome that psychological barrier like thinking about the December holiday season in July. Now that has to be tough, but not impossible. After all, the proof is in the pudding with all of their success. Maybe when a marketing guru is thinking that far ahead, he or she must crank the office or home A/C in July, put on a sweater and play endless Christmas music to "get in the mood" to draw up future plans.

Still, Halloween shopping in August? Does anyone honestly plan that far in advance for Halloween? C'mon - all of that college football has barely started. While on the subject of  football, it's insane to play in August. I know these teams have schedules, but this football thing is definitely for cooler weather. It sounds like torture to sit in the stands watching football in the summer. I just look at those players feeling sorry for them in that gear in 90-plus-degree weather.  OK, it makes sense to plan ahead for Christmas - that's a huge deal, but it's beyond a chore to think about late October with its cooler days, pumpkin patches, mazes, harvest, gourds and spaghetti squash. I wonder what those August Halloween shopper numbers are these days. Does a huge swath of the public shop that early for Halloween or for that matter, any holiday including Christmas? Collectively this nation is known to be filled with procrastinators, so are there a lot of folks out there who are the opposite of procrastinators? 


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