It’s the most wonderful time of year! Q4 is also one of the busiest times of the year for the retail and eCommerce community, so it’s crucial that your entire team is fully aware of all of the key holiday shopping dates this season. Not only are there already many official shopping occasions, but it seems as if each year also brings a brand new shopping day or term. Are you familiar with Green Monday or Super Saturday? Don’t fret. We’ve got all the official (and non-official) holiday shopping dates you and your team need to effectively plan your online (and perhaps even in-store) marketing campaigns in order to stay on top of your Holiday game!
Most people don’t realize that Canadian Thanksgiving actually takes place a full month before American Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in Canada occurs on the second Monday of October. It is almost identical to the tradition of American Thanksgiving, but does not have the same strong Holiday association like it does for our neighbours south of the border. It does however, help to spark some Holiday shopping excitement in Canada, but not on the same level as the United States.
2014: Monday October 13th 2015: Monday October 12th 2016: Monday October 10th
Trick or Treat? Halloween can be a big time of year for speciality and niche retailers. For those of you maybe unfamiliar with Halloween, it’s most popular in North America. It’s traditionally a night to remember the dead and was centred around autumn harvests or feasts. Modern day Halloween is a commercialized non-official holiday where children and adults alike dress up in costumes, go trick or treating, attend Halloween parties, visit haunted house attractions, and watch scary movies etc. With all the preparation that goes into Halloween (ie. costumes, decorations, food, etc) many retailers now create special promotions based around this day.
2014: Friday October 31st 2015: Saturday October 31st 2016: Monday October 31st
American Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Unlike Canadian Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving is heavily centred around shopping as it signifies the official kick-off of the holiday shopping season with big shopping days like Black Friday and now Cyber Monday.
2014: Thursday November 27th 2015: Thursday November 26th 2016: Thursday November 24th
Black Friday has been dubbed one of the busiest shopping days of the year since 2005. It occurs the day after American Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Friday of November. Several retailers will offer special deals and discounts to entice shoppers into their stores. Many consumers will line up at night to be first inside the store once the doors open early Friday morning. Retailers use to open their doors as early as 6am, but opening hours have crept up to 5am and even 4am in some cities. In 2011, Black Friday was taken to a whole new level (mostly by retailers such as Target, Best Buy, Kohls, Walmart etc.) when stores began opening at 12am midnight or even 8pm the day before!
While Black Friday use to be an in-store only type of shopping occasion, retailers and merchants have now begun running Black Friday specials/campaigns online to entice buyers through more than one channel.
Fun Fact: The day is called Black Friday because traditionally it was the first time during the year that retailers would turn a profit (go from red to black).
2014: Friday November 28th 2015: Friday November 27th 2016: Friday November 25th
Cyber Monday is the term given to the special online shopping day on the Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday. The first Cyber Monday occurred on Monday November 28th 2005 after Shop.Org released a press release entitled “‘Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year” dubbing the day an official online holiday success. They noted that online merchants had noticed a substantial increase in sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving, from a trend of major discounts and promotions being offered online similar to those of Black Friday. Cyber Monday has quickly grown in popularity over the last couple of years across multiple countries. Once a single day, Cyber Monday and Black Friday have now merged to become one mega shopping weekend for merchants, offering discounts and promotions that go all weekend long.
2014: Monday December 1st 2015: Monday November 30th 2016: Monday November 28th
Green Monday was a term actually coined by eBay back in 2007. They used it to refer to their best sales day in December, which is usually on the second Monday of December. comScore has defined Green Monday more specifically as the Monday that is at least 10 days before Christmas. Green Monday acts as another profitable shopping day for retailers, where consumers are in the full swing of the holidays.
2014: Monday December 8th 2015: Monday December 14th 2016: Monday December 12th
Free Shipping Day
“Free Shipping Day” is a one-day event that occurs on the third Monday of December. On this day, participating merchants and retailers offer free shipping on in-stock items that guarantees the delivery of orders by Christmas Eve. This year there are already over 1,000 merchants taking part this December. Merchants and retailers are encouraged to sign up to offer their free shipping promotions at www.freeshippingday.com. This special day was created by Luke and Maisie Knowles, the founders of FreeShipping.org. It was actually created with the intention of helping to extend the online shopping season.
When Free Shipping Day was originally created, it only included participating merchants in the Continental US. However good news fellow Canucks! Free Shipping Day Canada was launched in back in 2011. So take advantage of those free shipping deals here: www.freeshipping.ca
2014: Monday December 15th 2015: Monday December 21st 2016: Monday December 19th
Super Saturday is the last Saturday before Christmas Day. It obviously acts as a major driver of revenue for retailers being that it occurs on the last full weekend ahead of Christmas. It also marks the end of the shopping season that most consumers believe begins on Black Friday. Super Saturday lives up to its name, as it offers consumers major one-day sales in an effort to accumulate more revenue during the holiday season.
2014: Saturday December 20th 2015: Saturday December 19th 2016: Saturday December 24th
Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas Day. Occurring each year on December 24th, Christmas Eve acts as critical last chance day for any late (or forgetful!) shoppers. Malls tend to be open later, or at least have special hours to help accommodate stressed and under-the-wire consumers. Christmas Eve also acts an a last minute boost in revenue both online and offline for retailers before Christmas Day.
With an increase in same day shipping services, it will become more important and a sought out service on days like Christmas Eve for online shoppers (especially if weather is particularly bad, and thus consumers are unable to reach shopping malls). It will give shoppers a peace of mind that their last minute purchases will arrive before Christmas morning.
2014: Wednesday December 24th 2015: Thursday December 24th 2016: Saturday December 24th (also the same day as Super Saturday)
Christmas Day occurs annually on December 25th. Although it is usually a “quiet” day in retail, with most (if not all) shopping malls and shops closed, consumers usually begin to deal hunt ahead of Boxing Day/Week.
2014: Thursday December 25th 2015: Friday December 25th 2016: Sunday December 25th
Boxing Day, traditionally, is the day after Christmas (December 26th), but over the last couple of years it has now turned into Boxing Week. Long gone is the one day madness of waking up in the wee hours in the morning to wait outside in the cold (here in Canada, it’s pretty nippy in December!) for stores to open to take advantage of any special deals or sales. Boxing Day is now a week long affair, stretching itself usually up until New Years Eve. Not only has Boxing Day increased its length, but also its reach. Retailers and merchants alike now offer special deals both in-store and online spurring more revenue opportunities right up to the end of Q4.
2014: Friday December 26th 2015: Saturday December 26th 2016: Monday December 26th
New Years Eve
Finally, New Years Eve (December 31st) is the last day of Q4 and the last opportunity for retailers to lock in sales before the end of the year. It caps off the busiest month of the year and Boxing Week. Retailers are usually strategizing how to best sell excess inventory from the holiday season and which post-holiday campaigns will be most successful in enticing consumers back in January.
2014: Wednesday December 31st 2015: Thursday December 31st 2016: Saturday December 31st
Plan Smart, and Plan ahead
Whether you’re preparing for Black Friday, Super Saturday or Boxing Week, there are an abundance of key holiday shopping dates for all merchants (of any size) to take advantage of. Speak with your team, outline your game plan and most importantly set your budgets. Plan smart, and plan ahead and you too can be successful this holiday season.