The Calendar Corporations Use to Take Your Money
Have you ever wondered why you never seem to have any money, no matter the time of year? Well, I think I have the answer.
Businesses always seem to find a way to squeeze as much profit from our pockets as possible. Over the years, capitalism has created a calendar that companies follow to (quite successfully) bounce from holidays to special occasions to keep our shopping carts full. I want to share this calendar with you so that, hopefully, we can all be more aware of the sneaky ways big corporations capitalise from our celebrations. Many country-specific holidays cater to their people, so I will be focusing on US and UK holidays that engrained themselves in our lives. Let's begin!
The year starts strong with New Year's Day, and with it comes the New Year's Resolutions. Gym equipment and memberships fly off the shelves, and businesses cater to health trends as we search for ways of improving our lives. We later drop these resolutions and return to square one the following year.
Once the New Year has settled and, for most of us, the depressing ending to our new year's resolutions, it's time to begin the shaming! February is infamous for Valentine's day and the tsunami of red and pink that swamps the supermarkets. The day where we flock to romance like flies and spend an enormous amount of money on fancy dinners, flowers, chocolates, and mid-range prosecco and wine. Remember, nothing provides more profit than insecurities.
If Valentine's day was a little slow this year, then Super Bowl Sunday ought to do the trick. As I live in the UK, seeing the madness leading up to Super Bowl Sunday is fascinating and terrifying. It's like the Olympics and the World Cup have merged into yet another sport filled with advertisements and watch parties. I've recently found out that 1.4billion chicken wings are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday in 2020… 1.4BILLION! In one day!
March is quite a busy month for us living in the UK. Unlike the US and the rest of Europe, our Mother's Day falls in March, and with that, all the leftover flowers from Valentines get rebranded and once again pushed out in gift baskets and Mother's Day cards. When I first arrived in the UK (I was born in Poland and arrived at a very young age), I could not understand the Brits' craze with cards for EVERYTHING. Well, no other holiday comes close to beating Mother's Day with buying cards. It almost seems like it's against the law not to get your mum a Mother's Day card. I don't understand it.
Now don't think that you lot in the states managed to dodge a bullet with March because, well, it's St. Patricks Day, and wow, you Americans know how to celebrate St. Paddies. It seems like the whole country turns green and alcohol floods the gutters, alongside green glitter, puke and the leftovers of people's morals. It's the only month where buying an oversized green hat with a four-leaf clover on it for $50, before losing on the dancefloor at some dodgy nightclub, ONLY to rebuy it next year. At no other time in your life would this seem a good idea.
April seems to be the month where we decided to begin planting our flowers instead of buying pre-cut store bouquets (which are also marketed, by the way), its back again to the chocolates in April with Easter. Are you starting to see a trend occur? Good luck sticking with your diet with all of this chocolate around. With all the multi-buy over-sized Easter eggs in stores, no wonder that the west has problems with obesity.
Also, for the festival lovers in the states, spring break brings forth Coachella! For those who have not attended a music festival before, the planning behind the preparation is immense. Nobody wants to spend $10 on a burger, so stocking up supplies is crucial. Festival season is the best time for businesses to get rid of all the useless stock from the back of the warehouse, and we eat it up like no tomorrow(land)… Get it?
While the UK enjoys two bank holidays (days off throughout the year for various random reasons, even we don't know why), the US and the rest of Europe celebrates Mother's Day. If you're a company that works internationally, this is like hitting two birds with one stone. There may not be as many cards flying off the shelves in Europe, but I am sure that the flowers have made a return to our shopping baskets. The companies know how to make use of the bloom seasons before dying out in colder seasons.
Unfortunately for the corporations, Father's Day falls in June for all of us, so no double profits! Not only do we need to search for the perfect beard care toolkit and premium spirits, but it also marks the start of summer for all of us in the northern hemisphere. School ends in the UK, and the sunshine graces us for most of the time. (well, everywhere but the UK, but we're used to it by now.)
June also hosts the Glastonbury Festival, one of the world's biggest festivals, and, just like with Coachella, the Brits cannot resist the bargain prices to go and enjoy live music and escape society. Glastonbury is a unique festival and holds its own against all the other festivals hosted in the year, but more on festivals later on.
It's time to celebrate America’s independence from us Brits! I get it; we don't like ourselves either, but that's our charm, so it's okay. The shops stock their shelves with fireworks and you party like there's no tomorrow, the perfect recipe for businesses to profit. Celebrate your freedom by all means but be aware that you're not free from the claws of capitalism. That is an entity much more powerful than the British Empire. Also, July officially marks the summer holidays in the UK. We swarm to our beaches in our thousands, and beer gardens overflow into the streets with Brits pissed as a fart. I love how the sun seems to fry our judgements. The corporations have solidified the idea that it's not a summer holiday without a BBQ. Yes, they are great… but that's not the point I am trying to make in this blog. BBQ sticky ribs, why do you have to be so irresistible!
August is both a tremendous and depressing month here in the UK. For us Brits, we refer to August as our Festival Month. It is the warmest month of the year and, if our prayers are answered, minimises the chances of rain. It rains in the UK, A LOT. To make things even better, the August Bank Holiday falls perfectly in line with my favourite festival duo: Reading and Leeds Festival. I have attended Leeds Festival 6 times in a row and will go to all means to go to Leeds despite living only 2 hours away from Reading Festival. My northern pride takes the best of me. I love the festival season. It's my time to let go and relax, and with that comes the relaxation of my wallet. I want to say it's worth it, but damn… this is a costly month.
Alongside the festival costs come the preparations for the return of school in September. New uniforms (yes, we wear school uniforms), books, pens, pencils, sharpeners, calculators, you name it, we need it. Stationery shops must bring in a fortune in August and September as tired parents grab the closest items to them to speed things up.
September marks the first day of autumn (or as you American’s like to call it, fall), and with it marks the start of the spiced-everything trend. Local coffee shops and supermarkets begin to tend to the cold weathers. Autumn is the time of year where the days become shorted while we start spending more time indoors. Comfort becomes key, and the corporations are aware of our search for the items that help us relax.
A critical factor that the companies take into consideration are online trends and memes culture. Online trends that become viral guarantee an audience that the corporations can target and persuade to purchase their product. Believe it or not, but there was a time where pumpkin spiced lattes were not around. Weird, I know. After the internet turned this simple drink choice into an annual, must-buy item, the flavour became a staple autumn tradition. It’s good to know that as a collective, we have the power to alter what these businesses tailor to us. Together, we are strong!
Is it really October without seeing pumpkins scattered across supermarket floors and fancy-dress costumes in every shop window you pass in the highstreets? A crucial period for any business as most of the western world adores Halloween. What is there not to like? Dressing up, free sweets, Halloween parties and time to see our children smile as we trick or treat together through the streets. All of this may be fun, but it comes at a price… and quite a hefty one too. To save yourself the trouble, make sure you reuse all Halloween decorations and costumes wherever possible.
On top of Halloween, each US house begins to host its annual Thanksgiving dinners. Turkeys fly off the shelves (just a little joke there), and each household has its traditions that accompany the cooked bird. I feel sorry for whoever is hosting the meal as I’ve seen the sizes of your meals. I’m sure many of us Europeans will agree that that is way too much food for one sitting. I can only imagine the smiles that supermarkets owners have the day before thanksgiving. Their profits must be enormous.
In November the UK celebrates Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night. For those of you who do not know what Bonfire Night is, it’s the time where Guy Fawkes planned to blow up parliament with gunpowder. We call this the gunpowder plot. We celebrate the night with fireworks and sparklers. Just like American Independence Day, we also celebrate how tyrannous our leaders were. I told you that we don’t like ourselves.
Also, we can’t talk about corporations profiting without mentioning Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Originating from the states, it is now commonly celebrated across the western world. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the only days when we all fight to the death for the ‘deals’ that, if examined, actually do not provide a significant discount. The hunger games of deals and the corporations are The Capitol, for all of you hunger games fans out there. Some products become cheaper while others have their price increased a couple of weeks beforehand just to be reduced to original or even an elevated price than before. Do your research and ignore the temptations of impulse buys. Preparation is critical these days.
Christmas is by far one of the most profitable time of the year for corporations. Many preparations go into the celebration, and even if you do not celebrate Christmas, there will be something that replaces it, which still requires you to purchase supplies. Hannukah, Boxing Day (weird UK holiday), St. Nicholas Day, the list goes on. I both long and dread the Christmas period. I feel that Christmas is best enjoyed when you are not the host. There is so much less hassle, and, let’s face it, it saves you SO much money. I admit that I am the worst regarding presents. I never know what to get people, and I never know what I want myself. I might as well just hand my wallet to my family and accept the mountain of Christmas cards that will take up my already non-existing house space. The corporations have done such an excellent job of persuading us to purchase as much as possible. They may say that Christmas is about spending time with family, but that time better include exchanging gifts and sharing a meal. Otherwise, it’s not Christmas… right?