Learn the ins and outs of a small business holidays calendar, including what to do to prepare your store and how to track your success.
What are small business holidays?
Small business holidays are days of the year when shopping activity peaks, both in brick-and-mortar stores and online.
Some small business holidays, like Black Friday or Christmas Eve, are well known, and a clear opportunity to capitalize on peak foot traffic and increase sales. Others aren’t such an obvious chance for profit but could bring great results for your store.
That’s why it’s important to understand the nature of these small business holidays. Some of them encourage people to search for deals and promotions, others are about local events and supporting small businesses.
Knowing the difference will help you meet shoppers when they’re in the right mindset to buy what you sell.
How to prepare sales for small business holidays
Creating an enjoyable shopping experience for small business holidays has two parts:
- Getting shoppers into your store
- Making sure they leave satisfied with their purchase
The first part emphasizes the importance of holiday marketing: your window display, social media activities, paid ads, gift guides, giveaways, promotional emails, discounts, and pop-up stores.
Thanks to the small business holiday calendar, you can map your marketing far in advance. This way, you’ll be able to plan and create visual content, partner with influencers or other businesses, write emails, and prepare your website on time for maximum impact.
If you choose to open a holiday pop-up shop in relevant fairs and markets, this will give you plenty of time to work out all the logistics.
The second part focuses on the shopping experience and everything that goes into it. Here are some questions you can use to optimize your store for the holiday shopping rush:
- How can we prepare our product offering and inventory?
- Do we need to hire temporary staff?
- How should we organize staff shift schedules?
- How can we incorporate experiential small business or store demos and sampling to improve foot traffic and customer satisfaction?
- Can we offer order fulfillment options like buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) or curbside pickup?
- Should we move our brick-and-mortar store online to serve customers who want to avoid the crowds that come with the holiday rush?
This way, you can deliver on the promises you make in your marketing. The result? Not only happy customers that will buy from you again, but a happy team that made it happen.
Tracking important small business holidays
The more you use a small business holiday calendar to plan future store activities, the easier it will be to reflect on your past sales data and understand what worked and what could be improved.
This is where analyzing your point of sale system’s data can help. Use reports and dashboards to spot trends faster, pinpoint peak sales periods, and quantify the impact your small business store has on sales, customer retention, and your brand’s overall growth.
You can also compare and contrast your online and physical store performance, learn what your best-selling or most profitable products were, and see whether or not the tactics you used helped your store hit its seasonal sales goals.
With this knowledge, you can approach every next holiday with a stronger plan and make every year better than the last.
small business holidays calendar
These are the small business holidays to keep in mind (almost) wherever you are in the world. We’ve organized them by month, and included the year if they don’t always fall on the same date.
Halloween: October 31
Halloween marks the start of the holiday season in the US and in many countries around the world. Consumers spent around $8 billion on Halloween-related items in 2020, and this number is expected to cross the $10 billion mark in 2021.
This is a great time to prepare your store for this first holiday shopping spike. Customer spend is expected to go up for product categories like costumes, decorations, candy, and greeting cards compared to recent years.
You can also leave a great impression on families doing their holiday shopping early, especially those with children.
“Not only are those with children intending to spend more on Halloween-related items like costumes, they are also getting a kick start on their shopping, with more than half planning to start their shopping in September or earlier,” says Matthew Shay, CEO and president of National Retail Federation.
November: Small Business Holidays
Veterans Day: November 11
For small businesses, Veterans Day is the day to honor current and former military members and their families with offers like discounts and special offers.
Brands like Kohl’s, Academy Sports, Columbia, Nike, Samsung, Under Armour, Nest Bedding, and many more offer veterans discounts up to 40% store-wide. Some stores also offer military discounts year-round.
If you want to honor and support military families with your store, these are a few examples of how you can make it happen.
Singles’ Day: November 11
Singles’ Day, also called Double 11, is an unofficial holiday that celebrates people who aren’t in relationships. It originated in China and quickly became one of the biggest small business and online shopping days in the world. (With Alibaba’s $74 billion in sales on this day in 2020, that’s no surprise.)
It has now expanded into Europe. In 2020, the UK had £1.4 million in sales; Germany, £1.2 million; France, £900,000; and Italy, £500,000 in sales on Singles’ Day. UK customers spent 11.8% more on Singles’ Day in 2020 compared to the previous year.
In 2021, online sales increased by 80% in Italy, 68% in Spain, and 57% in France, when compared to compared to the average in the last week of October 2021. And Germany (35%), the UK (22%), and the Netherlands (16%) showed a significant increase in online sales on 11/11/2021.
This is a great opportunity for your small business store if you cater to and celebrate single people with the products you sell, which can be anything from food, drinks, and fashion to self-care and sexual wellness products.
International Men’s Day: November 19
It may not be commercialized like International Women’s Day, but International Men’s Day also exists, to celebrate men and boys and their achievements in work, school, family life, and other parts of their life. If you sell men’s products, you could do a flash sale on new arrivals or bestselling products.
Thanksgiving: November 24 (2022)
Some 22% of US consumers are most likely to begin their holiday shopping on or after Thanksgiving. Most of those that plan to go to the store on Thanksgiving day expect to do so between 7 and 10 p.m.
Black Friday: November 25 (2022)
Black Friday, the day after US Thanksgiving, needs no special introduction. Worldwide, this day sees a 663% increase in sales compared to an ordinary day:
In the US, 70% of people shop in-store on Black Friday—more than any other day of the Thanksgiving weekend. Buyers seek Black Friday deals both in brick-and-mortar stores and online—to truly capitalize on BFCM, merchants need to meet holiday consumers’ expectations for shopping experiences that marry online and physical touchpoints.
💡PRO TIP: Merchants who use Shopify to manage their online and physical stores see up to 30% year-over-year revenue growth. Keep inventory levels in sync as you sell, return, exchange, or transfer products between stores, offer flexible fulfillment options like click-and-collect, and make decisions with confidence with easy-to-understand sales reports.
Small Business Saturday: November 26 (2022)
Small Business Saturday was started by American Express in 2010 with a mission to highlight small businesses and their owners and encourage shoppers to support local businesses instead of big-box retailers or e-commerce giants.
This is a great day to draw attention to the fact that you’re a small business owner by sharing the story of why and how you started your business and your mission or values. You can also run a Small Business Saturday special offer to drive foot traffic, awareness, and sales.
For example, ask shoppers to take a photo while they’re in your shop and post it on social media, tagging your business and mentioning that they’re shopping local on Small Business Saturday. In exchange, give them 20% off their in-store purchase on the day or their next online order.
Cyber Monday: November 28 (2022)
Cyber Monday is Black Friday’s sister shopping holiday on the Monday after Thanksgiving in the United States.
Its name originates from when the Black Friday sale took place in brick-and-mortar stores, while the intention of Cyber Monday discounts was to encourage people to shop online.
But shoppers now shop wherever is convenient for them in the moment, and rely on options like BOPIS. In 2019, small businesses that offer BOPIS outperformed non-BOPIS retailers by 45% on Cyber Monday. And in 2021, eMarketer concluded that brands and small businesses offering alternative delivery options are being rewarded with incremental sales.
With attractive discounts and flexible shopping options, your store can scoop its portion of the huge global spend on Cyber Monday (in 2021, this amounted to $10.7 billion).
Giving Tuesday: November 29 (2022)
Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement that happens on the Tuesday after US Thanksgiving. Founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, this day of giving encourages people to do good. In July 2019, Giving Tuesday became its own organization. Now, small businesses use this day to donate sales profits to charitable organizations that align with their values.
You could promote special offers in-store and online explaining that a percentage of your profits or all profits on select items will be donated to the charitable organization of your choice.
December: Small Business Holidays
Find Your Happier Place Week: December 3-10 (2022)
InUnison is celebrating local businesses through the most wonderful time of the year with “Find Your Happier Place Week.”
As an InUnison member, the benefits to your business are already built into this campaign. We’ll be promoting the local map, itineraries, and giveaways to local consumers on your behalf.
Want to go the extra mile?
Participate by doing something unique to spark action from consumers and we’ll help spread the word. A couple of ways to get involved:
- Request a Find Your Happier Place sticker display box for your store or office
- Give customers a special discount or giveaway for that week only
- Host an open house or include your special event that week
- Help promote the Find Your Happier Place messaging on your own social – we’ll provide easy-to-use templates!
I’m Interested – Get on the communications list.
Green Monday: December 12 (2022)
Green Monday happens on the second Monday in December and it’s one of the busiest small business shopping dates in the United States. It’s also gaining popularity in other countries, like Australia.
It falls around two weeks before Christmas, which means there are only about 10 shipping days left in the season. Shoppers are usually urgently looking online for last-minute gifts. Knowing this, you can add banners to your website promoting holiday gifts and special offers to encourage people to buy from you instead of the competition.
Super Saturday: December 18 (2022)
Super Saturday, also known as Panic Saturday, is the last Saturday before Christmas. It’s when many people do last-minute shopping.
WWD reported $38.6 billion was spent on Super Saturday in 2021. Shoppers are hunting for gift ideas, discounts, and gift wrapping—the convenience of getting everything done in one place and instantly.
This is the advantage Super Saturday gives brick-and-mortar stores over ecommerce, and a great date to plan for and prepare your staffing, store layout, and promotions.
Christmas Eve: December 24
Christmas Eve is the true last chance for Christmas shopping—gifts and groceries included. In the US, 51% of people wait until Christmas Eve to buy presents, and this is a record sales day in New Zealand.
In other words: this is another chance to serve last-minute shoppers. Whether you focus on just your store or also push online promotions for BOPIS shoppers, make sure your inventory can handle it.
Boxing Day: December 26
People shop for gifts for their loved ones up until Christmas Eve, but they often shop for gifts (and discounts) for themselves come Boxing Day.
If you choose to open your store on December 26, use this opportunity to capture shoppers looking for post-Christmas clearances.
New Year’s Eve: December 31
New Year’s Eve is the day when many people do last-minute shopping for outfits, food, drinks, and party supplies. Many also want to take advantage of the final holiday discounts.
Ecommerce daily traffic on New Year’s Eve went up a few years ago, likely due to the cold weather encouraging more people to shop from indoors. So even if you don’t expect significant foot traffic on this day as people get ready for the night, online ordering is worth investing into and promoting on New Year’s Eve.
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