Somewhere, somehow, someone decided that Halloween stuff should come out as soon as possible after Labor Day is past. And then immediately following Halloween (sometimes even before) Christmas merchandise goes up. (What happened to the old adage of starting the Christmas season with Thanksgiving?)
Apparently in Walmarts, the pattern of marketing extends uniformly through all the states. You’ll find the same stuff in Florida that’s sold in Michigan at the same time of the year. Yes, Florida residents think in terms of “seasons” just as they do up-north, and when you’re talking about pumpkins and Christmas trees, it makes sense.
But the seasonal merchandising extends to a lot of items which have nothing to do with holidays. Think of the stuff you buy in the summer when you’re heading to the beach. And what about grills for cooking outside, and lawn furniture? Those items are also “seasonal.” Apparently the rules are uniform. Cold weather items are stocked from the fall through the winter. Warm/hot weather stuff in spring and summer.
Here’s the problem: We need those beach items in Florida year-round.
Wouldn’t you think that someone would figure that out?
When folks vacation in Florida, they are often looking for warm weather items? Especially with the additional restrictions on airline baggage, folks will be “traveling light.” With these baggage restrictions, there will be more folks who will expect to purchase what they need when they arrive in Florida.
Several years ago, we arrived in Florida in September, as many snowbirds do. I wanted to buy additional beach towels for guests who were scheduled to arrive during the winter months. Walmart, where I’d generally shop for towels (because theirs are big, thick and fluffy), had absolutely none and I was told I had missed the season for beach towels by about six months. Same was true of “pool noodles” and “beach umbrellas.” But just before we (and all the other snowbirds) left for home in March, they brought out the next season’s supply.
I asked a clerk and she said that it’s always that way. Beach stuff is considered seasonal, and it’s therefore only sold starting in the early spring. Yard items are put away until about April. She said, “Hope you never want to buy any lawn furniture in December. We don’t stock outdoor items during the winter months.” Yet Florida boasts year-round nice weather.
The heaviest influx of snowbirds is in January, February and March. The population of many areas doubles or quadruples. Wouldn’t you think that these prospective buyers would be recognized by Walmart and they’d make it possible for these folks do their shopping at Walmart for a beach towel, a beach bag, or a sun umbrella? Nope.
But if you want a heavy winter coat, the Florida Walmarts carry them in December. I’ve even seen mittens and scarves and I’ll bet you could buy a snow shovel at a Florida Walmart, but no beach items. Go figure!
In our destination community in Florida, there is a Bealls department store. They get it. They cater to the Florida lifestyle and you can always buy shorts, bathing suits, and other beach attire. You’d think that Florida Walmarts would also catch on.
(Note: I should revise this critical report. I checked on February 5th, 2011, and found that Walmart has just re-stocked outdoor grills and they even had a few “pool noodles.” This is the first time they’ve been in stock this early. Maybe they’re learning.)