🍂Don’t Fall for Fall! What’s Behind this Seasonal Mark-up & How to Avoid the Pumpkin Pinch

You won’t believe we’re in Autumn right now from the weather I’m having in London. It’s nearly November (so very much fall territory) and yet it feels warmer than I can ever imagine. Over the weekend it hit 22C which is almost 72 for you Americans. This is not a good thing. Our planet is overheating and while us Londoners are basking in this newfound warmth, this ain’t something to be celebrated.

But with the change in season (or supposed-to-be-change though the rain is definitely coming down long and hard so there’s that) it brings the joy of something new. Fall is that time of year that fills our bellies with spice and all things nice. And no one looks forward to this season more than my American friends who seem to mention it the minute the summer fades!

But while we’re busy savouring the smells of pumpkin and cinnamon, companies are smelling $$$$. And lots of it. It’s spending season and companies love it. Maybe more than us lot! From cinnamon-scented candles to pumpkin carving kits, smores and more, we’re addicted to this holiday of our very own creation. Though from what I gather, London does not do fall nearly as well as the New Yorkers. Watching Gossip Girl in high school made me crave that Times Square fall feeling, walking past those incredible shop front windows and seeing pumpkins and all sorts of decorations literally everywhere. 

Photo by Ana M. on Pexels.com

Maybe one day I’ll make it to NYC for the fall (maybe even squeeze in a cheeky thanksgiving dinner) to see what all the hype is about! Though my friend who’s a money guru and also super balanced in her outlook says after a few days the general excitement of the fall festivities wears off and NYC gets back to its busy, bustling self. But a few days is all I really need!

Prices gone pumpkins?! It’s all about supply and demand   

When it comes to all things fall, companies get clever. Really clever. They want to tap into your fall feeling and get you to pay a maxed-up price all without you even noticing or possibly caring. And guess what, the ‘pumpkin spice tax’ mean foods with this special fall flavour can cost up to 160% more than their boring non-fall friend.

But where on earth did this trend come from? It’s no coincidence that it came from the pumpkin-spiced maker itself: Starbucks! 19 years ago, they launched this fall-only latte which quickly became a favourite and I suppose we’ve been hooked ever since. And obviously other companies jumped on the bandwagon realising there was plenty of moola to be made. 

A pumpkin spice latte from the heavenly beverage biz now costs $6.45 which is 18% more than the $5.45 you’d be paying for a reg 16oz. Oh and right now this fall drink has been in such high demand in the UK that Starbucks says it’s facing some slight shortages. So maybe the UK is a fall-fanatic after all! Just like our friends across the pond. 

Photo by Nathan Salt on Pexels.com

Too small to notice? 

Here are some crazy mark-ups of fall-flavoured foods:

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spiced Teeny Tiny Pretzels: 161%
Whole Foods Market spiced pumpkin pancake & waffle mix: 130%
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Hummus: 50%
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bisque: 46%
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cheesecake Croissants: 30%

The clever thing about these sorts of treats is that when adding them to your basket, you won’t necessarily realise the major markup since they’ll most likely be bundled together with all your other necessities. The coffee, though, yeah that’s usually bought on its own but consumers don’t bat an eyelid. They want the fall flavour and they’re definitely willing to pay up for it! 

Also, companies do something sneaky by calling these ‘limited product ranges’. This taps into our scarcity mindset. We wanna grab these treats before they’re gone. And this marketing spiel is probably way more effective post-pandemic than it was pre thanks to supply chain issues, the ongoing war in Ukraine and inflation. People genuinely think these things are gonna run out. And voila, that’s how to get consumers to spend.

It’s all about timing!  

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

The funny thing is, if Starbucks were to sell pumpkin-spiced lattes throughout the year, you think they’d be such a craze? Hardly. But since these special bevs are released come Autumn, suddenly it’s all us consumers want. We want to be enveloped in that warm pre-wintery feeling and that comes with all things pumpkin. So, companies get clever. They start upping the prices for fall-themed things and watch as consumers open their purses and splash out on the festivities. 

I was chatting to my friend who’s living abroad this year (away from NYC) and she said the fall feels so much emptier without all the autumnal flavours floating about in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Oh, and she misses all the street decorations. She said her only way to feel the fall is going into Starbucks and grabbing a good old pumpkin-spiced latte. Paying over the odds for some feeling of nostalgia. 

Are we still gonna spend on spice? 

Though this year we might be feeling a little different. We are entering a very weird recession – inflation is pinchy and it means we have left disposable income to spend on this sort of stuff. Our bills are rising left right and centre so you might wanna think twice by spending 160% more for some Trader Joe’s pumpkin-spiced pretzels! 

Photo by Klayfe Rohden on Pexels.com

Why not try baking some thing instead? From pumpkin pie to puddings to apple and cinnamon things. Try new things and experiment. You don’t need to keep spending to have a good time. 

And black friday also happens to fall in the fall (cool coincidence??) so make sure you jot down things you actually (sort of) need and note how much they are. Then you can check whether they’ve actually gone down in price on black friday or whether you’ve been played! 

Honestly, I think it’s one big fat halloween trick. Many things go up in price on black friday only to get ‘discounted’ so consumers think they’re getting a bargain when in reality they’re paying more for something they couldn’t bought for less before the annual day of sales began. 

Keep your eyes peeled and seriously don’t fall for any tricks. If you don’t need it, try not to buy it. And keep your buck to spend when things (and prices!) go back to normal after this season of overpriced-pumpkin whatnot! 

But for now, enjoy the changing season; the crunching of the colourful leaves, the crisp mornings and those long, long evenings curled up with your fave book. Oh, and your pumpkin foods of course! ]

Disclaimer: This blog is not investment or financial advice. It is my opinion only. This blog is not a personal recommendation to buy/sell any security, or to adopt any such investment strategy. Always do your own research before you commit to any investment.

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