NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- When's the first day of fall, you ask? When retailers are good and ready for it, that's when.
According to the U.S. government, this year's autumnal equinox takes place today at 11:09 p.m. Thanks NASA, but America really isn't going to wait that long to truck out bags of candy corn and plastic Jack O' Lanterns, start sipping coffee drinks that taste of caramel and gourds and stop watching men with bats and balls in favor of armored athletes who run into one another at full speed.
By that measure, it's been autumn since the last beach blanket was rolled up on Labor Day. However, even in a retail environment that's known to put out holiday items a second after the last back-to-school notebook leaves the shelves, there's still a slight respect for seasonal offerings. Lunar cycle notwithstanding, here are the five biggest signs autumn has arrived: