Self-generated Seasonal Cycles

Why is Black Friday the biggest shopping day of the year? Back in 1961, Jay Forrester identified an endogenous cause in Appendix N of Industrial Dynamics, Self-generated Seasonal Cycles:

Industrial policies adopted in recognition of seasonal sales patterns may often accentuate the very seasonality from which they arise. A seasonal forecast can lead to action that may cause fulfillment of the forecast. In closed-loop systems this is a likely possibility. … any effort toward statistical isolation of a seasonal sales component will find some seasonality in the random disturbances. Should the seasonality so located lead to decisions that create actual seasonality, the process can become self-regenerative.

I think there are actually quite a few reinforcing feedback mechanisms, some of which cross consumer-business stovepipes and therefore are difficult to address.

Before heading to the mall, it’s a good day to think about stuff.

Update: another interesting take.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *