Or supermarketeering cashing in on our impulse buying habits?
I’m a checkout operator.
Here’s something I see on a daily basis.
Not just at Christmas or Easter, but all year round.
Customer after customer coming to the checkout areas with a full basket or arms loaded with more items than they can carry.
Some of them are using a trolley.
Some of them start out with just their handbags, then when their arms are full, getting a trolley to continue shopping.
Why is this?
They have come in for just one or two items, then seen other things they’d forgotten they needed, or simply just decided to buy. On impulse.
This is the marketing tactic behind out of season goods being supplied when particular items normally wouldn’t be sold.
For instance, take the recent sales of Hot Cross Buns.
These have been on supermarket shelves since early January.
(For several years now).
But think back to your childhood.
Were these yummy buns available so freely back then?
No, they were not.
Traditionally, these buns are an Easter item, being eaten on Good Fridays, all over the world.
I don’t remember exactly when Hot Cross Buns first appeared so early in the year. I do remember that there weren’t nearly as many as there are now.
Nor so many varieties.
Fruit, fruitless, gluten free, choc-chip.
Regular size, mini buns.
(Give the people what they want and reap the rewards).
Did they appear because people had asked for them?
So soon after the Christmas feasting?
I’m inclined to think the answer is NO.
NO NO NO
They sold, (of course), because we are impulsive creatures, and when we see something that triggers a memory, something that we’ve enjoyed in the past, our natural instinct is to buy it again.
Marketing industries have studied shopping habits worldwide and come to this conclusion.
Put a rarely seen item on the shelves and people will buy it.
Word will get around.
“Hey, look what I bought in (supermarket) today!”
“Oh, we love those, I’ll go and get some too.”
With increased sales (read - profits), these items gradually began appearing in greater numbers, then earlier and earlier.
Different chains began to try and outdo each other.
One supermarket chain had Hot Cross Buns on sale on the 2nd of January.
The next year a rival supermarket had Hot Cross Buns for sale on the 1st of January!
This is also the case with Christmas decorations, Mother’s Day gifts and Father’s day gifts.
Year after year, Christmas items are in the shops as early as September.
When I was a small child, Christmas items did not appear until late November or even early December.
From what I can see, none of this is actually driven by consumer demand.
If the items were not available in January, because Easter isn’t until April, (sometimes March), then I truly don’t think
they would be making a fuss, asking
"Where are our hot cross buns?"
"Why aren’t they on sale?"
"We want hot cross buns!"
"And we want them now!"
It all comes down to marketing. Sales designed to grab as many of our dollars as they can. And because we are such impulsive creatures, we allow this!!
Would the supermarkets suffer if we didn’t buy these items?
If we remembered that Hot Cross Buns are an Easter item?
If we didn’t buy them until the few days preceding Good Friday?
Perhaps in the first year or two, when thousand upon thousands of unsold buns had to be tossed away.
But they would still make good sales on all of their regular items.
(as well as left over,reduced in price, Christmas items, at least in January).
I think it’s time, we, as shoppers, took a stand here, buying items at the proper times.
Hot Cross Buns in time for Good Friday, and Easter Eggs in the couple of weeks leading to Easter Sunday.
I’d like to hear your opinions on this.