The first sign of fall isn’t always colorful leaves or a chill in the air. Before the environment changes, fun-sized candies in black-and-orange wrappers appear in stores, heralding the next season up to a month before its actual start date. You might assume that seeing Halloween treats before Labor Day turns customers off, but according to retailers and candy makers, that isn’t the case. Through clever manipulation, businesses are able to stretch the candy-buying season—and their profits—as a result.
According to Yahoo!, the start of autumn (at least economically speaking) isn’t decided by the calendar or the public. Retailers control when shoppers start to get in the Halloween spirit. When consumers see candy corn and mini chocolate bars at their local drugstore, they’re primed to prepare for the upcoming holiday—even if it’s 90°F outside and they’re shopping for a Labor Day pool party. They may be annoyed by the premature holiday display in the moment, but through the power of suggestion, they’ll be more open to picking up some treats on their next visit.
So why do companies want people to adopt a fall mindset in mid-August? The answer, unsurprisingly, is money. The Halloween season is a lucrative time of year for the manufacturers of candy and the stores that sell it. They already know that consumers will buy a bag or two for trick-or-treaters ahead of October 31; the trick is getting them to make multiple candy purchases ahead of Halloween. By stocking seasonal candy before autumn proper, businesses can get people craving (and hopefully buying) Halloween treats earlier in the year than they would otherwise. This allows the companies to artificially add an extra month to their most profitable season.
We like to think of ourselves as free thinkers, but if you already have pumpkin-shaped chocolates in your candy bowl at home, you may be more suggestible than you think. Just savor the time when you can walk into a store without hearing holiday music while you still can.