I’ve never been one for making/keeping New Year’s resolutions. One major reason is that it is just psychologically defeating to keep lying to oneself. Most resolutions don’t make it out of the first week of January, and a very high percentile are gone before the end of the month. Why do we keep punishing ourselves in this manner?
I did try to make a New Year’s resolution a few years ago. I decided that I was going to start eating right and exercising at least 6 days a week. I had been going to a gym infrequently, but I felt comfortable enough with the place to make it the location for fulfilling the exercise portion of my resolution. I got up early in the morning in the freezing cold, drove to the gym half asleep, and couldn’t find a single place to park at the gym. I’d been at that time before and had found just a couple people at the gym, so I was surprised at the popularity at this time of day. Then I realized that everyone else had the same resolution I had, they just started theirs a little earlier than I did and got the parking spaces.
Since then, I’ve been watching New Year’s trends and having a little fun with my observations. This year I saw a first that I wasn’t expecting, but it seems that retailers are beginning to pay attention to the tendency of the new year resolution. Every large retail store has certain areas where they feature products. The most prominent of these is the seasonal area. This is the place in the store that goes from barbecue/picnic stuff in July to Back to School in August. There is a slight break for summer clearance that is usually followed by Halloween stuff. From Halloween we now waste no time going into Christmas. This, of course, is beneficial to the retailer because we no longer have to figure out how to fill four aisles that are dedicated to Thanksgiving.
Traditionally, there is a week or so following the new year where the retailer sells all the Christmas items that are left over at a clearance price followed by a set for Valentine’s day. There was a break in the cycle this year at a local store. In the seasonal aisle where I should have been able to purchase Santa Claus shaped chocolates at a fraction of the normal price I instead found rows and rows of bottled water, workout videos, diet and exercise books, and various tools of the fitness industry trade. It was in staring at this aisle that I realized that the official feel-good colors of the fitness industry are metallic shades of purple, blue, and gray.
While this observation may not mean much, it was a part of an anomaly in the system and is worth of noting. I’m very suspicious of the retail industry, partly because of my involvement in it, buy mostly because I am convinced we can learn a lot about the dark side of humanity from looking at marketing trends. Is it alarming that we are so predictable in our desire to make ourselves better that a large retail chain will dedicate a large portion of it’s shelf space to making sure we have all the ingredients for personal improvement?