Holiday Spending Invites Investment Opps

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In one of my favorite moments from the TV show The Simpsons, Homer is sharing with the gang at the bar how savvy he was to invest in pumpkins. “They’ve been going up the whole month of October,” he explains, smoking his cigar with bravado. “And I’ve got a feeling they’re gonna peak right around January … Then, Bang! That’s when I’ll cash in.”

The wide shot at the bar then reveals that it’s Halloween night.

Clearly timing—and common sense—are everything. And while it’s always in season to chastise Homer’s stupidity, one has to applaud the general idea of trying to time a seasonal investment.

While I’ve seen some conflicting numbers for 2015, it’s safe to say that the average American spent around $750 during the holidays, and maybe more. In total, that amounts to a colossal figure that tops $250 billion. By some reports it may actually be much higher than that, perhaps even exceeding $500 billion.

I love the trappings and good spirits of holiday time as much as the next guy, but with an entrepreneur’s eye it’s very hard not to look at this time of year’s incredible consumer push without contemplating what kinds of profits are out there waiting to be had.

As the face of retail itself has changed—and continues to do so—it’s worth a look ahead of the curve to maybe see what the future’s bringing. (As I’ve said before, a savvy entrepreneur doesn’t waste time judging trends, but embraces them.)

The ever-expanding online retail world has clearly drawn some people away from the brick and mortar shops. While this may or may not ultimately impact sales overall, depending on the product, one thing for sure is that getting those goods into the hands of customers is right now a considerable business of its own, especially around holiday time.

According to UPS, up to 95,000 temporary workers find an assignment during the holiday month, when the company doubles its daily average of 18 million deliveries. Likewise, Fedex intends to add more than 55,000 additional personnel for the push.

I also find it intriguing to look at what new technology means for holiday delivery in retail businesses, including Amazon, which has been in a well-known push to develop drones to augment its own delivery system. While the U.S. put something of a damper on development, the company is currently working with the British government to test the possibilities. Clearly, this is what the future looks like.

But all of this is just food for thought. I don’t want to see anyone distracted from holiday celebrations this year.

Still, as you take notice of all the commerce taking place this season, see if you can spot any new opportunities that may be all gift wrapped and ready to be opened.

Oh, and by the way—an estimated $650 million was spend on pumpkins last Halloween. Too bad Homer didn’t see a dime of that.