Cyclical Seasonal and Secular Markets

Seasonal markets are those that sell products, produce, food, etc., and are in demand at a particular time of the year. Not to say that these markets operate only at this time, they do but their best business is during specific seasons.

Examples are Valentine candy and cards in February, Easter bunnies, special candies and  baskets, picnic supplies for the Fourth of July celebrations, school supplies prior to a new school year in September, Halloween costumes and treats, turkeys in November in preparation for Thanksgiving, and of course Christmas trees and gift ideas in December.

Another definitely seasonal market is ski industries. However, to offset the lack of business in the summer, many of these are offering summertime activities. Yet, as far as statistics go, they are still seasonal.  

Seasonal marketing is varied and while most of the items in this category are sold at department stores, they are not on display at other times, but are probably in storage or have been sold cheaply a few days afterward. If these are sold in specialty stores, they are most likely businesses labeling themselves as gift shops, card shops, toy stores and bakeries.

Cyclical markets are those that have peak demands at certain times of the year. Sales may wax and wane according to various situations, a building boom in an area will up the demand for lumber, skilled workers, eating facilities, lodging, etc.,  a bull market atmosphere may increase sales, while a bear market may cause a downward trend.

The seasons may enter into cyclical markets, increasing or decreasing its activity, while still not being classified as a seasonal market. Unusually cold weather and heavy snow may improve the sales and the business of snow removal equipment, and ice melting chemicals.

More definitely, cyclical markets are those that,  like the ebb and flow of the ocean, have their peak times and then gradually subsiding when the economy slows.  Generally the state of the overall economy is the driving force each cycle, a strong economy is good for vacation planners, a weak economy, not so good.

Even though this type of business involves period of times, the times are erratic. A peak performance may last a year or so, or longer, and then an indefinite amount of time will be needed for recovery. This is the actual difference between seasonal and cyclical industries. As a contrast, grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, hospitals are non-cyclical businesses.  

A secular market is often far removed from seasonal or cyclical markets, but may influence or be influence by them. Secular markets are far removed in distances and size, and even time. These are business concerns  that are directly or indirectly related to international incidents, wars, political unrest, and large population shifts. To get a clearer picture of secular markets, this definition from Investopedia: “A secular bull market will have bear market periods within it, but it will not reverse the overlying trend of upward asset values.”

According to them, the US “equities” were in a “secular bull market” from 1980 to 2000 even though the 1987 the stock market crashed. Of course this was only temporarily and the market index went up and up for another thirteen years before it came to a halt – worldwide – in 2008.

Whether seasonal, cyclical, or secular, business is business and while there are differences in the way analyst view these three types of markets, they are, at some point, together. This is so because each involve a time period, a fixed time period – seasonal – a variable unmeasured time period -cyclical – and a large global all encompassing indefinite and little understood time period – secular