January 22, 2013

Early Passover Has Some in a Panic

You could hear it in his voice. “Do you know that it’s less than 10 weeks to Passover,” a Brooklyn retailer said to me. Yes, his voice sounded like it was an uncontrolled panic, much like someone who hyperventilates at the thought of having to achieve the impossible. But early Passovers do that to many in the industry, not to speak of housewives who have yet to take their winter vacations. 

This year Passover falls on the eve of March 25th. There, I have said it; March 25th

To be sure, there are signs of it everywhere. I watched Passover foods being loaded into a warehouse in Miami and large tractor trailers of matzoh leaving a Boro Park bakery. In some cases, aisles are already being cleared for the Passover set, which in some cases will already be up in less than 4 weeks. 

Ironically, say many retailers, an early Passover also sends customers into panic mode. They are likely to do much more last minute shopping and the crunch that is so prevalent every year is even more so in an early Passover. Some seasoned retailers I spoke to have specific plans for the early Passovers. Said one: “I make sure to be in their  face with the date of the holiday and I move up my FSI’s to hit even before Purim.” 

Of course, there were those “cool hand Luke” types that simply would not let panic set in. “It is what it is and early or late, the end is always the same,” said Sam, an owner of a Brooklyn grocery store. I noticed that the Passover hotel programs began their advertising early and that many people who traditionally go away for Passover have already made their reservations.

I advised one retailer recently to prepare an 8-week Passover calendar for his customers. This calendar would remind them when to shop for cleaning supplies, paper goods, meat and fish, produce, matzoh and so forth. It does help to be a bit proactive in an early Passover year, but panic, neh!!!