Get a lot of stuff for Christmas? I did, and it makes me wonder where it all comes from, and how it all gets here. Oh yeah, Santa and his elves figure that out for us, every year. Right? Although that’s true, we have to admire all the planning that goes into moving our holiday goodies to market.
Now that the holiday season is behind us, who besides Santa is thinking of next Christmas? Thankfully, lots of people are. This off-season is used to organize next year, from Black Friday to Boxing Day.
Christmas 2021 begins now.
We commonly think of six seasons in a business year: spring, summer, back-to-school, fall (or seasonal), winter, and holiday. Business seasons usually commence weeks ahead of the actual market period. All the holiday goodies that you just enjoyed were shipped last summer.
It takes a while to make stuff. You then have to package, import (perhaps) and ship the product to the stores or directly to the customer. Advertising has to be purchased and scheduled well in advance of the product coming to market.
If you are in the business of selling cross country skis, for instance, demand is likely not going to be very high in July. By the same token, wait to advertise your snow sneakers until the first snowflake falls, and you will catch most people looking forward to sunshine and daffodils. 
It all takes time and timing.
When I worked for a clothing wholesaler shortly after graduating college, I always dreaded the job of stacking wool sweaters in the summertime when the heat in the warehouse near the rafters reached one hundred degrees.
There was sometimes unnerving to be working on fashions so far in advance. While fires were crackling on our fireplaces at home, swimsuits were in production overseas. Fabric for the togs churned in the mills a full year before production. Designs were created only once the availability of fabrics was determined. Patterns had to be made, and all the logistics set in motion for deliveries.
Working into the future is where the art meets science in business. Guess right, and you are made. Guess wrong, and you just make do.
One year, we were the only wholesaler in the Unites States to have imported Oxford cloth blouses for sale, right when the style became hot. We made a killing! The following year, we sold Gloria Vanderbilt jeans for a third of what we paid for them, because the fashion fizzled out.
Knowing how far in advance we worked on our clothing lines, gave me insight on the age old question about commerce: Do consumers determine what gets made, or do manufacturers determine what people want?
I’d say it’s a combination of both, but the edge is to the manufacturer. Someone right now knows exactly what you’ll clamor for next Christmas. He may be a jolly old elf or not, but it will be someone skilled at thinking and planning ahead.
Right now, Santa has hung up the red suit, in favor of his work clothes. The off-season is when the action really begins at Santa’s Workshoppe.

John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media