Start Promoting: Holiday Guide for Merchants

The term "holiday" is defined as a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done. For merchants, however, holidays tend to increase the workload and (hopefully) sales, because holidays typically give consumers more free time (and a reason) to shop for themselves, for others and for festive products, in general. 

In order to receive the benefits that holidays can bring in, merchants must first spend time creating a marketing plan for each special day. For example, popular holidays, such as Thanksgiving or Independence Day, require months of planning and robust marketing, including search advertisements, an email campaign and a social strategy. On the other hand, merchants may decide that email and social are suitable channels for promoting smaller holidays, like Grandparents' Day or Groundhog Day.

To prepare the appropriate type of campaign for each holiday, merchants must first choose which special dates to acknowledge. Luckily, Website Magazine has compiled a list of holidays, complete with some strategic tips, to help merchants plan out their marketing initiatives. Check out the month-by-month breakdown of important dates below:

(Note: the dates are based on the 2013 calendar)


Merchants should use January not only to recuperate from last year's busiest shopping season, but also as a time to start preparing for next year's holiday shopping season. This is because December's holiday campaigns are still top-of-mind, and should provide merchants with insights into what worked and what didn't work. That being said, January also has some pretty important holidays that merchants can use to promote sales, such as New Year's Day and Martin Luther King Day.

January 1 - New Year's Day

January 20 - Inauguration Day (Once every four years after the presidential election)

January 21 - Martin Luther King Day (third Monday in January)


February hosts both popular holidays that require strong marketing, such as Valentine's Day, as well as some quirky holidays, like Groundhog Day and Mardi Gras, that can be promoted with a strategic email and social campaign. Additionally, Leap Day occurs in February about every four years, which presents merchants with a unique opportunity to offer some exclusive sales. Lent also provides some clever marketing tactics, as those who observe Lent typically give up a personal vice during this time (from Feb. 13 through March 30). Perhaps you can encourage them through their journey by offering replacements. 

February 2 - Groundhog Day

February 10 - Chinese New Year (The first day of the Chinese calendar)

February 12 - Lincoln's Birthday

February 12 - Mardi Gras (The last day before Lent)

February 14 - Valentine's Day

February 18 - Presidents' Day (third Monday in February)

February 29 (2016) - Leap Day (typically every four years)


The most popular holiday in March is typically St. Patrick's Day, however, in 2013, Easter also falls in this month, which means that merchants should plan their campaigns accordingly. Furthermore, March 20 is the first day of spring, which merchants can use as a way to promote new spring/summer items.

March 17 - St. Patrick's Day

March 20 - First Day of Spring (Spring Equinox)

March 25 - Passover Begins (starts on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan)

March 31 - Easter (first Sunday after or on the first full moon, after the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere)


April might start out as a joke, but merchants should take marketing campaigns during this month seriously. This is because Tax Day is April 15, which means that a good majority of consumers are going to have some extra spending money.

April 1 - April Fool's Day

April 2 - Passover Ends

April 15 - Tax Day

April 22 - Earth Day


Before the flowers begin to bloom in May, merchants should have their Mother's Day campaigns running in full force - as this is one of the busiest shopping times of the season. 

May 5 - Cinco de Mayo

May 12 - Mother's Day (second Sunday of May)

May 27 - Memorial Day (last Monday in May)


With summer on everyone's mind, June is a great time to launch some "hot" Father's Day deals.

June 16 - Father's Day (third Sunday of June)

June 21 - First Day of Summer (Summer Solstice)


Independence Day is summer's biggest holiday, which means that merchants should start launching their marketing campaigns for Fourth of July shortly after Father's Day in order to receive the best results.

July 4 - Independence Day


Although August may be lacking big-name holidays, merchants should use this month to promote end-of-summer and back-to-school sales. 

August 21 - Senior Citizens Day


Back-to-school sales typically run through the end of September, but there are a few notable holidays in this month that merchants can use within promotions, such as Labor Day and Patriot Day.

September 2 - Labor Day (first Monday in September)

September 8 - National Grandparents' Day (first Sunday after Labor Day)

September 11 - Patriot Day

September 22 - First Day of Fall (Fall Equinox)


October is a time when merchants can launch spooky sales to capitalize on Halloween. They should also use this time to start preparing for the busiest shopping season of the year, which is right around the corner.

October 6 - Boss's Day

October 14 - Columbus Day (second Monday in October)

October 31 - Halloween


The busiest shopping season of the year officially kicks off on Thanksgiving every year, which means that merchants should start launching holiday-related search advertisements at the beginning of this month in order to see sales skyrocket on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

November 11 - Veterans' Day

November 28 - Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November)

November 28 - First Day of Hanukkah (25th day of Kislev, according to the Hebrew calendar)

November 29 - Black Friday (first Friday after Thanksgiving)

November 30 - Small Business Saturday (first Saturday after Thanksgiving)


Holiday sales should be in full force by December 1, but merchants should continue their holiday marketing initiatives through Christmas, before switching to year-end sale campaigns.

December 2 - Cyber Monday (first Monday after Thanksgiving)

December 5 - Last Day of Hanukkah (Eight days after the start of Hanukkah)

December 7 - Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

December 21 - First Day of Winter (Winter Solstice) 

December 24 - Christmas Eve

December 25 - Christmas

December 26 - Kwanzaa (until January 1st)

December 31 (New Year's Eve)

Other Important Dates

While this list has more than 40 important dates on it, there are undoubtedly many other holidays that merchants can create marketing campaigns around - like National Hug Day (January 21), National Pancake Day (February 28) and Sweetest Day (the third Saturday in October). Moreover, merchants can create sales and promotions around dates that are special to their company, like an anniversary or founder's birthday. By creating sales around specific dates, merchants can help increase traffic and conversions as it provides consumers with a sense of urgency. That being said, it is also important to not overdo or promote holidays too close together, because consumers won't pay attention to a "special holiday sale" if it occurs too frequently.