Autumn arrives earlier than ever for Starbucks and others with pumpkin menu items

This summer, Starbucks and other popular restaurants began introducing pumpkin-flavored menu items much earlier than usual. Starbucks announced the launch of its pumpkin flavored drinks and baked goods on August 25, a full two weeks before the official start of autumn. The trend appears to have started in 2013, when Starbucks introduced the drinks two weeks before Labor Day.

Other restaurants, from Dunkin Donuts to Taco Bell, have followed suit, rolling out pumpkin-infused items to their menus ahead of the traditional autumn launch. This is likely in response to increased consumer demand for pumpkin-flavored items. According to Nielsen data, sales of pumpkin-flavored food and beverage items have skyrocketed over the past five years, rising 45 percent from 2012 to 2016.

Clearly, the demand for pumpkin-flavored goodies is even greater than ever before, prompting restaurants to meet the desire with earlier launches. The longer season for these items also creates a competitive advantage for retailers, as it allows them to capture consumer attention and loyalty ahead of the competition.