Seasonal operation

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Typical seasonal operations: The Cologne Rhine Cable Car and the MS Rheinenergie

In the economy, seasonal operation is a company whose products or services are subject to regularly recurring fluctuations in terms of the degree of occupancy due to the season or consumer habits.


The defining word “season” of the compound “seasonal operation” means the time of year when the demand for certain products or services is lower or nonexistent compared to the annual average due to the weather . This also applies to consumer habits that affect demand. Seasonal businesses are when their operating hours are year-round, but are subject to seasonal fluctuations in employment and sales . Internationally there are seasonal businesses wherever the season or buyer behavior leads to such fluctuations in the degree of occupancy .


These fluctuations can be due to the weather ( gastronomy in excursion locations , cable cars , ice cream , quarries , beet sugar , winter sports ) or they can be caused by buying behavior that varies depending on the season ( fireworks , carnival items or Christmas cookies ). Seasonal items are particularly popular at certain times, such as fashion items (summer or winter clothing) or typical holiday items . Seasonal services are outdoor swimming pools , sailing schools or winter sports facilities such as ski lifts . In the hospitality industry , seasonal operations are differentiated between one- season operation (summer or winter) and two-season operation (summer and winter, closed mid-season). Hotels and other service providers in tourist areas have to adjust to the high season or the low season . Typical seasonal operations are the national parks , which are not open all year round .

Legal issues

The Federal Labor Court (BAG) defines seasonal businesses as companies "in which work is carried out all year round, but typical seasonal fluctuations in the number of employees occur due to operational reasons because the activity is regularly increased in a certain time of the year".

Seasonal operation is a legal term because the provisions of the Employment Protection Act (KSchG) in the case of mass layoffs due to the nature of these operations do not apply to seasonal operation ( Section 22 (1) KschG). This means that at discharge of seasonal workers the employer in relation to the employment agency no mass layoff display according to § 17 KschG must report and no working hours to apply for has ( § 19 para. 1 KschG). No Seasonal are Construction whose year-round employment by the SGB III ( § 102 is conveyed SGB III) ( Winter money ;. § 22 KschG 2).

The trade supervisory authority can allow longer daily working hours for seasonal businesses during the season ( Section 15 (1) No. 2 ArbZG ). The temporary interruption in seasonal businesses does not cancel their trade tax liability ( Section 2 (4 ) GewStG ).

economic aspects

In economic terms, seasonal businesses are all businesses that are exposed to seasonal fluctuations and therefore have typical utilization cycles. Seasonal fluctuations are the short waves in the course of business that take place within a year and whose special feature is their annual return.

The seasonal fluctuations - if the capacity of the production factors remain the same - have an impact on the capacity utilization , so that there is full employment during the season and underemployment outside the season (utilization cycles). On the other hand, the seasonal fluctuations lead to high sales during the season and low or no sales outside of the season. This means that costs can not be covered outside of the season , and losses can even occur. To avoid this, seasonal farms have to adapt to these - foreseeable - fluctuations in employment . This can be done by reducing staffing capacity in order to reduce fixed costs ( idle costs out of season). Therefore, in addition to a comparatively small permanent workforce, seasonal workers can only be employed for the season in seasonal companies. Beyond that, there is no need for their employment. Purely seasonal operations have cost-intensive idle periods in which operations are idle.

Since the balance sheet date does not have to coincide with the end of the calendar year ( December 31st ), seasonal businesses can set their reference date to the end of the season, because then the stocks are relatively low. The law only requires that the financial year cover a maximum of 12 months ( Section 240 (2) sentence 2 HGB ). Especially in seasonal businesses need the production planning and inventory planning are closely coordinated to warehousing and sales risks to reduce the off-season.

Seasonal fluctuations not only affect seasonal farms but also the entire economy of a country. For example, in winter the unemployment rate tends to be higher than the annual average ( seasonal unemployment ). To avoid distortions due to seasonal influences, some are economic indicators of seasonal adjustment subjected. It must be taken into account that in an economy seasonal fluctuations can be balanced out, while they fully affect the individual seasonal operations.


Seasonal operation must be distinguished from campaign operation. In campaign operations, the operating time is limited to part of the year; it will always worked only a few months a year as in harvesting campaigns of Agriculture ( asparagus , vintage ).


Wherever mass tourism is dependent on a high season in the destination area, it has an impact on seasonal operations in certain travel destinations. The importance of mass tourism for the economy of a travel destination is shown in its share of the gross domestic product (GDP). The higher this proportion, the more dependent the economic development of the destination country on fluctuations in mass tourism. The higher the share of tourism revenue in a country's GDP, the more dependent the economic development of the destination country is on fluctuations in tourism . In 2018, tourism in the Philippines had a share of the gross domestic product of 24.7%, followed by Thailand (21.6%), Hong Kong (17.4%), Mexico (17.2%) and Austria (15.4 %) %), Spain (14.6%), Italy (13.2%), Turkey (12.1%), Great Britain and the People's Republic of China (11.0% each). They are thus above the global average of 10.4%. In 2015, a total of 2.92 million people were employed in the tourism industry in Germany, which is 6.8% of total employment. A large number of them were seasonal workers.


Individual evidence

  1. Iris Böschen, Macroeconomics and Economic Policy , 2017, p. 185
  2. BAG, judgment of January 29, 1987, Az .: 2 AZR 109/86 = NZA 1986, 627
  3. ^ Eggert Winter (ed.), Gabler Lexikon Recht in der Wirtschaft , 1998, p. 826
  4. Siegfried Bandilla, Production Planning in Seasonal Operations , 1967, p. 7
  5. ^ BAG, judgment of January 29, 1987, Az .: 2 AZR 109/86
  6. Statista The Statistics Portal, Contribution of the Tourism Industry to GDP in Selected Countries in 2018 , 2019