For most eCommerce businesses, you likely see your biggest sales during Q4 thanks to the snowball of holiday shopping events. But there are other important dates and “seasons” throughout the year that you must be aware of to cover all your bases (even the overlooked ones).
Sales seasonality is nothing new for retailers, whether traditional brick-and-mortar or eCommerce sellers. While the peaks and valleys of sales trends throughout the year are certainly top of mind as sellers plan for inventory cycles and even staffing needs, it’s important also to consider how seasonality impacts the other end of your business, namely, manufacturing, procurement, and supply chain.
North American-based sellers must pay attention to the global economy and supply chain as well as culturally significant events around the world that may impact your business on either end. If you sell internationally, being aware of important holidays in other regions can help you plan your inventory to accommodate sudden spikes in sales. Conversely, if you procure goods from international suppliers, you’ll need to be aware of holidays or events that could slow or even stop manufacturing and shipping of those goods.
From quarter to quarter, holidays, festivals, and plain-old seasonal trends all but dictate business operations. Read on to learn what important dates to be aware of throughout the year in 2022 as well as why these dates are significant and how to manage your business around potential interruptions.
Hot on the heels of a busy Q4 and holiday season, the first quarter might feel like a slump in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the final months of the year. You might think it’s the perfect time to kick back and relax, but don’t get too comfortable — the (New Year) party is just getting started!
Same-day delivery for ginger candies and Tylenol, anyone? Customers recovering from a fun New Year’s Eve might find themselves scrolling Amazon mobile from couches looking for deals and trying to distract from a well-deserved hangover. Resolutioners are ready to dive into their plans for self-improvement, often seeking deals on fitness or wellness equipment, books, journals, and more.
Since New Year’s Day is a statutory holiday in several regions, shipping challenges may persist for several days following the calendar change.
The third Monday of January is often referred to as “the most depressing day of the year.” A British vacation company birthed it after factoring in weather and debt levels as part of a publicity campaign that academics and mental health professionals mocked, but the general public lapped up. Whether you subscribe to it or not, you can utilize Blue Monday in your early Q1 marketing efforts to spread cheer amongst your customers.
Many customers will be feeling the post-holiday slump and ready to indulge in some retail therapy to kickstart that “New Year, New You” plan, or simply to use up some of their holiday gift cards and cash.
Tip: You can apply this term to any Monday, like the first Monday of the year, which many feel is the most Monday of Mondays.
Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, is among the most important celebrations observed in China. The festival signals the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new year according to the Chinese Lunar calendar (which is why it’s sometimes referred to as Lunar New Year).
In countries where it’s celebrated, Chinese New Year is a public holiday. All factories close and employees go on holiday for at least two weeks. This shutdown includes countries such as mainland China, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, and Brunei.
In 2022, Chinese New Year begins on February 1 and ends on February 15, but activities can begin up to three weeks before. Expect factory shutdowns for about two weeks followed by demand from businesses looking to make up for the delay in products during that time frame.
In North America and the UK, the day of love tends to inspire sales spikes of romantic items — think, jewelry, flowers, chocolates, etc. — starting in early February. While the most romantic of holidays shouldn’t impact manufacturing or supply chain processes, you might want to consider your inventory of Valentine’s-related goods well in advance to make sure you’re not oversold when the big day comes.
In many Asian countries, women celebrate Valentine’s Day in February, giving chocolates and handmade gifts to significant others, but men return the favor one month later in March. If you operate in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, and/or Vietnam, make sure your customers have lots of custom-made apparel, accessories, and jewelry to choose from and consider offering bargains to sweeten the deal (and day!).
Whether of Irish blood or Irish at heart, folks across the world love to celebrate Ireland’s heritage and customs on St. Patrick’s Day, often holding parades, festivals, and long days at the pub. St. Patrick’s Day is a $5.6 billion market, so you should get in on the action. For example, you can offer a discount or bundle on green accessories. Also note that Irish businesses may be closed or operating at reduced capacity, as some employees may choose to take time off to celebrate the holiday.
If your business caters to a UK-based clientele, you’ll want to stock up on everything “mum” for March! Cards, books, socks, accessories, and trinkets are all hot choices for mom-friendly gifts.
The second quarter ramps up quickly after a relatively quiet Q1, and for many eCommerce professionals, the impacts of late Q4 and Q1 holidays may still be felt in manufacturing and supply chain snags.
The Qingming Festival translates to “Pure Brightness” in English and is also known as Tomb Sweeping Day. This traditional Chinese festival is an important time for most people of Chinese descent to go and sweep the tombs and commemorate the lives of their ancestors. On this day, tomb sweeping is one of the most important and popular activities to show respect to ancestors.
The public holiday in China runs April 3 to April 5, 2022. During this time, transport and business disruptions are highly likely as people observe the holiday and participate in festivities.
Easter and Holy Week are observed in hundreds of countries around the world as the most important Christian holiday (even more so than Christmas). In many jurisdictions, Good Friday is observed as a public or statutory holiday with businesses, postal service, banking, and transport disruptions, while Easter Monday is generally treated as any other day.
Between an increase in Easter-themed goodies (think chocolates, Easter bunnies, and spring-themed goods) and the potential postal service slowdown, planning your inventory and shipping timelines will be especially important.
Of all the Hallmark Holidays, Mother’s Day in North America might be the biggest. Since it falls on a Sunday, it’s unlikely you’ll see a spike in traffic or purchases then, but you may see mother-friendly gifts flying out of your warehouses in the weeks prior.
Similar to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can inspire shoppers to hit your store for dad-worthy goodies. In both instances, be sure to leverage the holidays through targeted advertising and marketing campaigns with gift ideas.
As June nears its end, schools let out and parents often seek graduation or “grading day” gifts for their scholars. Graduation kicks off the opening of summer holiday shopping trends, often leaning towards outdoorsy items like bikes, beach items, bicycles, skateboards, scooters, or even electronic devices like mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.
Other key items for graduates include personalized goods, such as digital photo frames, custom shirts and mugs, and engraved jewelry.
“School’s out for summer” and, depending on where in the world you are, everything else might be out, too. Europe is famous for having the most paid vacation time in the world, and some countries are known to be essentially “out” for entire months during the third quarter. From mid- to late June into mid-September, many organizations see peak vacation time usage, meaning you can expect out-of-office replies, delays from B2B contacts, and possibly even see a slowdown in purchases as folks are away from devices.
Canada Day, or Canadian Independence Day, is a public holiday celebrating the “birth” of Canada as a nation. This public holiday is observed across the country with many businesses shutting down, including postal services, meaning packages may be delayed and contacts unreachable. Canada Day sales may include outdoorsy goods, Canadian flag-themed items, and party supplies.
The Fourth of July is a noteworthy occasion for U.S.-based retailers, with customers seeking red, white, and blue items to help them celebrate this summer holiday. The celebration of U.S. independence brings more than fireworks, though: It can create shipping delays and halt business operations as companies shut down for the festivities.
The summer holiday may seem innocuous enough; it’s when most people look forward to some R&R with friends and family. But the holidays can spell major disaster for any business as vacations kick off and out-of-office replies roll in. In Europe, many workers are off for at least some or all of the month of August.
As a result of this vacation-heavy time, the summer holidays tend to equate to less traffic to your store, slower eCommerce business, and thus fewer sales. To overcome these challenges, think mobile first — most people aren’t home on their computer, but out and about with their mobile device. Use the quieter time to catch up on your pre-Q4 planning.
Parents begin the countdown to back to school almost immediately after school ends, but back to school shopping trends begin to surface in the mid- to late summer months. School supplies, backpacks, and children’s apparel will be in higher demand, so make sure you’re well stocked and offer unique deals to capture interest and close sales.
The final hurrah of summertime, Labor Day weekend in the U.S. and Canada is commonly a weekend spent outdoors with friends and neighbors celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of a new season. The holiday itself can create snags in postal services and supply chain logistics with closures and limited hours.
To make the most of the holiday, “Goodbye, Summer, Hello, Deals” campaigns perform well. Consider offering free or discounted two-day shipping over the long weekend to attract new customers and give your own end of summer one last boost!
For eCommerce professionals (and anyone else in the retail space), the fourth quarter is the busiest time of the year. Early-bird shoppers begin trickling into your online store at the start of the quarter to prepare for their holiday gift-giving needs, so make sure you’re ready!
Canadian Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the last quarter’s holiday run for residents and businesses in the Great White North. This public holiday sees many businesses and all postal service, transport, and banking services closed, which means orders may be stuck and contacts unreachable during this long weekend.
This spooky holiday shouldn’t create any snags in your manufacturing and supply chain logistics, but it can be tricky if you don’t plan in advance for all of the treats your customers need.
Halloween shopping can begin as early as the late second quarter, with die-hard Halloween fans picking up costumes and decorations well in advance. Offering bundled goods for costumes, decorations, or even candy can help you carve out an edge over the competition and rack up additional sales early in your last quarter.
U.S. Thanksgiving kicks off the beginning of Cyber Week, just one month before Christmas. This marks the real beginning of what many consider the holiday season in the U.S. Traditionally, Cyber Week is among the biggest shopping weeks of the year, though 2021 saw a decline in sales.
Black Friday’s historic roots are well-known in retail, but the younger Cyber Monday began more than 15 years ago to encourage folks to head online to do their holiday shopping. These two significant dates are the big wigs of Cyber Week. Throughout the entire week, beginning on November 24 with Thanksgiving, you should expect higher sales volume and greater traffic to your eCommerce store.
To prepare for a smooth and successful week, preplan your campaigns and inventory cycles to ensure you don’t sell out of must-have items, and create bundles and other deals to differentiate your offerings.
Remember, too, these are important cultural holidays in the U.S., and many people will take vacation time or otherwise be out of the office, meaning business contacts may be unreachable and postal delays probable.
Sometimes called Panic Saturday, Super Saturday is the final Saturday before Christmas Eve, a major day for retailers in North America. This date (or just before) is commonly seen as the last chance to order online to receive items with enough time to wrap them and place them under the tree.
Since Christmas 2022 will fall on a Sunday, shoppers who wait until Super Saturday to hit your eCommerce store may find themselves out of luck for any online shopping, but you can still capitalize on the date. Email customers special offers like free or discounted two-day shipping to increase interest in your store for last-minute shopping needs.
Hanukkah gift-giving rarely extends beyond children, meaning you probably won’t want to get too busy promoting gifts to consumers. Hanukkah can, however, impact your business in a big way if you operate in a region with a large Jewish population. You may experience less traffic, fewer purchases, and if you work with organizations in these regions, you might also see reduced staffing or delays as employees enjoy time off with their families.
Folks have barely finished unwrapping their gifts by the time the Christmas offers begin rolling in. In many countries, Christmas and Boxing Day are considered public national holidays, so everything outside of essential services will grind to a halt. While the weeks and months leading up to Christmas will no doubt be your busiest of the year, Christmas certainly introduces new challenges for manufacturing, procurement, supply chain, and delivery processes and timelines. Preplanning your inventory and ensuring you’re set up for success well in advance of Santa’s arrival can help you avoid oversold situations or limited access to goods.
Boxing Day lands on December 26 each year and in many jurisdictions, it’s a public holiday observed by all businesses. Boxing Day (or Boxing Week, as it’s rapidly becoming) helps ensure customers get what they really wanted over the holidays, with fantastic deals on must-have products.
New Year’s Eve marks the end of the year and one of the biggest party days worldwide. Hot on the heels of the Christmas holidays, New Year’s can see a surge in online shopping activity as people plan for their New Year’s resolutions (or just really wanted an item that wasn’t in their stocking).
Often, postal services are still burdened by the volume of packages over the holidays, and warehouses may experience staffing shortages due to holidays and time off. Be aware of such delays in between planning your own celebration bash!
Don’t forget to check out other similar resources in the industry. These blogs cover some of the same dates and a few others, too. Check them out for a complete list.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list — there are simply too many holidays around the world to count! — these are some of the most important dates to consider as you plan for 2022. Remember that culturally significant holidays in other parts of the world may impact your big or small eCommerce business in the U.S., Europe, or Canada. Take the time to educate yourself, plan ahead, and respect these important traditions to keep your business running smoothly.