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As the hectic holiday season looms closer, it’s time for retailers to get prepared for the craze of shoppers about to descend in-store and online.

In order to plan your preparation, it’s important to firstly ensure you are aware of all the key holiday shopping dates that will affect your business.

November and December are undoubtedly the busiest months for most retailers as customers search for the perfect Christmas gifts. The months are only made busier by some of biggest shopping discount events, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Last year, sales rose to £74.3 billion in the UK and £374.5 billion in the US, during the six week period between the middle of November and the end of December.

Being prepared for the busiest days of the year will help you to stay in control and increase sales this Holiday Season. Whether you sell in-store, online or both, there are many key holiday shopping dates you need to bear in mind:

 

1. Thanksgiving - November 26

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season in the US and is often the time when retailers begin to consider launching sales.

Make sure you keep a close eye on your competitors to ensure they don’t storm ahead of you with early offers. This will ensure you don’t miss out on those early deal hunters.

 

2. Black Friday - November 27

Black Friday is ultimately the day where sales go crazy and shoppers look forward to massive discounts. According to Drapers, shoppers are expected to spend 32% more on Black Friday this year, so prepare by increasing stock levels and staffing.

Falling a little under a month before Christmas, it’s the perfect opportunity to grab a great deal on those extravagant gifts. Get ready for Black Friday by offering great discounts or think outside the box and offer something unique to entice customers to shop with you.

 

3. Small Business Saturday - November 28 (US) and December 5th (UK)

Celebrate small businesses by taking part in Small Business Saturday. The day encourages shoppers to shop local, focus on independent retailers and give back to their local community.

Small Business Saturday falls on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving in the US, this year it takes place on November 28th. In the UK, Small Business Saturday falls on December 5th 2015.

In the UK in 2014, there was a 20% increase in shoppers from the previous year with 16.5 million people shopping in a small business on 6th December 2014. It is predicted that the number of small business shoppers will further increase in 2015.

 

4. Cyber Monday - November 30

Cyber Monday is a second chance to bag some online deals after Black Friday. With massive discounts and huge traffic to shopping websites, it’s crucial that your online website can deal with the increase of site views.

It’s incredibly important to ensure your website is optimized for mobile as $328 million of total online sales were driven by mobile devices in 2014, according to eConsultancy.

In order to maximize your sales, great mobile functionality and appearance will ensure mobile shoppers make a purchase.

 

5. Green Monday - December 14

Green Monday is the second Monday in December and tends to be the last day for shipping standard class packages in order for them to arrive in time for Christmas.

Use email and social promotions to inform customers of your last shipping dates and get those orders in before it’s too late.

According to research from Magento, 38% of shoppers will not shop a site that doesn’t offer free shipping. So, why not increase your sales and avoid shopping cart abandonment by offering free shipping for the Holiday Season?

Give customers a second chance to get their parcels in time for Christmas by offering premium delivery too. December 18th tends to be the final day for premium deliveries to be guaranteed in time for Christmas.

 

6. Christmas Eve - December 24

Christmas Eve is the day all the last-minute shoppers come out in anticipation for Santa’s sleigh bells that very night.

Customers buying on the eve of Christmas will not have much time to spare, make sure everything is easy to find, well-stocked and offer gift wrapping services. You will have one very happy and relieved customer if you can gift wrap for them!

 

7. Boxing Day - December 26

After over-indulging on food and enjoying a jolly Christmas day, many people will turn to the shops for Boxing Day sales.

In 2014, shoppers spent nearly £3 billion in the UK’s Boxing Day Sales. Therefore, make sure you are prepared for the rush.

With some shoppers waking up in the early hours to grab the best bargains! Ensure to open your doors early, offer special deals and seriously reduce your end of line and holiday stock.

 

8. New Year’s Eve - December 31

Many shoppers will come out on the last day of the year to treat themselves as we say goodbye to 2015. Whether they are taking a last look at the boxing week sales or grabbing a last minute outfit for their New Year’s Eve night out, be prepared.

This is also an important day to prepare yourself for the January sales. Ensure you're keeping on top of your inventory management and that you’re well stocked with deals to entice customers into the new year.

Now is the time to decide what key shopping dates you plan to get involved with this year so you can make sure you’re prepared and ready to go.

 

Read the ‘Ultimate Guide to the Holiday Season 2015’ where you’ll find a downloadable holiday calendar with all these key shopping dates, and even more tips and advice for the busy months ahead.

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About the Author

Danielle Ricketts is the Senior Global Content Manager at Brightpearl where she spends her time following her passions of writing, retail and social media. She can be found writing away about all things retail or engaging with followers online.