| Apr 1, 2019

Season of Change for Spring Cleaning

For generations, spring has been widely regarded as the premier season for cleaning. A time to start fresh, toss open the windows and sweep away the dust and dirt of winter. Spring cleaning may have the history and name recognition, but fall cleaning is on the rise, and sales trends indicate that fall may actually be the primary season for tidying up.

Because of the annual emphasis on spring cleaning, the assumption has always been that spring cleaning sparks a surge in the sale of cleaning products. While this may be true, spring is no longer the only season playing a key role in the cleaning game, with sales of cleaning products spiking around August, as well. Which categories perform best each season, and how does the Spring Cleaner compare to the Fall Cleaner? 

The Rise of Fall Cleaning

When we look at the sales of cleaning products from 2017 and 2018, we see fairly consistent trends throughout the year. There’s a definite spike around the traditional spring cleaning time in March, but there’s a more pronounced surge in August.

Could we be seeing the fall of spring cleaning or, perhaps more accurately, the rise of fall cleaning? Trends are pointing in that direction. Spring cleaning sales in March 2018 were down 1.55% from 2017, while fall cleaning sales in August 2018 were up 3.86% from 2017.

Looking at the bigger picture, we see that fall cleaning peaks in August, a single month, while spring cleaning tends to be spread across March, April and May. Why might this be?

Depending on where you live across the country, spring arrives at different times of year. While half the country breaks out their shorts, the other half may be bundled up in winter coats, the warmth of spring still a distant dream. On the other hand, fall is typically ushered in when kids go back to school, not necessarily by a change in the weather, and is likely to "arrive" nearly everywhere between August and early September. Parents might be realizing that life is about to get more chaotic, so August could be their last chance to clean up the dirt and sand of summer. 

Which Categories Are Cleaning Up?

All-purpose cleaners and quick clean products, such as Swiffer Sweepers, WetJets and their accessories, saw a slight bump from March through May compared to the rest of the year. The cleaning wipes category was the biggest beneficiary of fall cleaning, with a noticeable spike in spend in August.

Back to school means back to germs, and it’s possible parents and teachers are driving this spike as they stock up on wipes for classroom supplies. Our data shows that parents make up 50% of cleaning wipes sales in August, nearly 1.5x higher than their typical 35% contribution to the cleaning category. 

Cleaners Gonna Clean

Nearly all households (97%) purchase cleaning products, but spring and fall cleaners spend more on the category and purchase it more frequently than the average shopper. Household penetration is about 50% higher for spring cleaners (61% of households) than fall cleaners (41% of households), but that discrepancy could be attributed to the extended spring cleaning time period.

The bigger takeaway is that fall cleaners are more valuable in terms of spend and purchase frequency. Fall cleaners spend $83 per year on cleaning products, compared to $72 for spring cleaners and $62 for the average shopper. Fall cleaners also make more frequent cleaning purchases, making 12.2 trips per year to purchase cleaning products, 1.6 more than spring cleaners.

Spring cleaning is certainly still a boost to the cleaning category, but fall cleaning is the real occasion to watch. Want to know more about how the change in seasons may impact your business? Contact us to schedule a demo and to find out how insights from Numerator can help you clean up sales.