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Holiday Schedule 2023: Marketing Calendar and Shipping Deadlines

The holiday season is fast approaching, and for e-commerce businesses, this means it’s time to prepare for the busiest time of the year. 

We’re still 2 months away from things getting really hectic but remember, early preparation is key to ensuring a smooth holiday season. 

Thus, in this blog, we’ll explore why early preparation is necessary and in order to help you get started, provide you with a comprehensive holiday schedule in the form of a marketing calendar and information on shipping deadlines for the 2023 season.

Why An Early Preparation Holiday Season is Necessary

The holiday season is a time when shoppers are on a buying spree, looking to get the perfect gifts for their loved ones and deals for themselves. However, this great opportunity brings up a great challenge for businesses such as yours. 

  • The holiday shopping rush can turn out to be overwhelming, leading to issues like shipping delays, inventory shortages, customer service overload, and so much more.
  • Building excitement and anticipation among your customers takes time. Early preparation allows you to create engaging content, run teaser campaigns, and build relationships with your audience.
  • The holiday season is not just busy but also very competitive. You need to have your marketing campaigns in place early in order to capture the attention of consumers and get ahead of competitors who are still planning their holiday campaigns.
  • The holiday season is a time when shipping carriers are straining their capacity due to experiencing high volumes of packages, which often leads to delays. This means that you need to plan accordingly to get your products shipped out for timely delivery. 
  • Customers are more likely to make impulse purchases during the holidays, especially towards the last minute. For such customers, you need to be prepared by having their trending products in stock and ready to ship. 

This is why starting your plans for the holiday season early is crucial:

Now that we understand the importance of early preparation, let’s dive into the details of the holiday marketing calendar and shipping deadlines for 2023.

Part 1: Holiday Marketing Calendar

Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of key holiday season dates and marketing strategies that work best each day so that you can implement them easily and maximize your sales.

October

While the holiday season officially kicks off with Thanksgiving at the end of November, shopping for the holiday season (yes, quite early) starts this month. 

This is the time for you to execute fresh plans that you haven’t tried out before, watch out for what your competitors are planning (something that you’ve not thought of), etc, and set your plans in place for the holiday rush that will commence in less than two months. 

The major event in October for retail and e-commerce is Halloween. Taking place on the 31st of the month, the spooky ancient Celtic festival is a time for customers to get creative and businesses to capitalize on. 

Halloween - October 31

Popular trends – costumes, decorations, candy, and food

Expected consumer spending – around $100 per person 

Effective marketing techniques – Halloween is no longer confined to a single day of trick-or-treating. It has expanded into a season that spans the entire month of October, with consumers engaging in various activities such as decorating, attending parties, and visiting haunted attractions. 

For e-commerce businesses, this extended Halloween season provides ample opportunities for sales and engagement: 

  • Create Halloween-themed marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience. Use spooky visuals, themed emails, and social media content to set the mood.
  • Produce blog posts, videos, or infographics that offer Halloween tips, DIY ideas, and costume inspiration.
  • Run contests, giveaways, and user-generated content campaigns on social media. For example, encourage customers to share their Halloween preparations using your products with a dedicated hashtag.

Halloween presents a golden opportunity for e-commerce businesses to engage with customers and increase sales. With a well-planned marketing strategy, you can enjoy the fruits of ‘spooktacular sales’, it can bring.

November

Only 2 months for 2024, less than a month for Thanksgiving — November is the time when things get quite hectic at e-commerce workplaces as businesses come together to run things for a week full of shopping. 

Key holiday events in November are collectively called The Cyber Weekend and include Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. 

Let’s start taking a look at them one by one. 

Thanksgiving - November 23

Thanksgiving, traditionally a holiday for expressing gratitude and sharing a bountiful meal with loved ones, has evolved into a significant shopping event in recent years. 

For e-commerce businesses, Thanksgiving presents a unique opportunity to engage with customers and kickstart the holiday shopping season. 

Expected consumer spend – $6 Billion

Popular trends – Food, home goods, and apparel

Effective marketing techniques – With the evolution of holiday shopping, the Thanksgiving landscape has largely shifted from a day of just families coming together to becoming synonymous with early holiday shopping, thanks to the rise of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Here are some ideal marketing techniques that e-commerce businesses can come up with to have a great Thanksgiving sale:

  • Create Thanksgiving-themed content: Send out a big “thank you” to your customers by crafting out social media posts, personalized emails or messages to display your gratitude. This is also a great way to get into the spirit of the season and attract customers.
  • Mobile Shopping: With the rise of mobile devices, many consumers shop on their smartphones during Thanksgiving gatherings. Ensure your website is mobile-responsive, and consider mobile-specific promotions.
  • Thanksgiving Giveaways: Run Thanksgiving-themed giveaways or contests like free products, gift cards, or even a trip. This is a great way to generate excitement and engagement around your Thanksgiving sale. 
  • Get into the spirit of Thanksgiving: You can also try spending the day with your local community and try giving back to them in order to associate your brand with the Holiday theme and etch your brand in your customers’ minds.

Black Friday - November 24

In this section, we’ll delve into Black Friday’s significance, average consumer spending, emerging trends, and effective marketing techniques for a successful Black Friday sale.

Expected consumer spend – Close to $10 Billion

Popular trends – Electronics, Apparel, Home goods, Toys

Effective marketing techniques – Over the years, Black Friday has transcended its brick-and-mortar origins and has become a global shopping extravaganza across e-commerce and the U.S. It’s characterized by doorbuster deals, massive discounts, and a shopping frenzy that lasts well beyond the traditional single day. 

To have a successful Black Friday sale, e-commerce businesses can look forward to implementing the following marketing techniques:

  • Early Promotions: Start building excitement weeks in advance. Tease upcoming deals and exclusive Black Friday discounts to create anticipation.
  • Countdown Timers: Add countdown timers to your website and emails to create a sense of urgency. Highlight limited-time offers.
  • Personalization: Leverage data to provide personalized product recommendations and targeted offers based on customer preferences.
  • Post-Sale Engagement: Keep the momentum going with post-Black Friday promotions, ensuring that customers return for more holiday shopping.

With well-planned marketing strategies, you can ensure your Black Friday sale is not just successful but also a memorable shopping experience for your customers. So, gear up for the Black Friday shopping extravaganza and make it a win-win for your business and your potential shoppers.

Small Business Saturday - Saturday, 27th November

Small Business Saturday, a shopping holiday celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses and local entrepreneurs. As an e-commerce business, you can capitalize on Small Business Saturday by aligning with the values of supporting independent sellers and having a successful sale. 

Expected consumer spend – The average shopper spends around $150

Popular trends – Electronics, Apparel, Home goods, Toys

Effective marketing techniques – Looking to have a successful Small Business Saturday sale? Employ the following marketing techniques:

  • Embrace the “Small” Identity: If you’re a small business who is also relatively new to the e-commerce world, then this is your chance. Highlight your unique story, values, commitment to quality, etc, and position yourself as a small, independent venture.
  • Collaborative Giveaways: Partner with other small businesses for joint giveaways or promotions to expand your reach.
  • Email Marketing: Send targeted emails to your subscriber list, announce your participation in Small Business Saturday, display your promotions, and express appreciation for their support.

In short, Small Business Saturday offers e-commerce businesses an excellent opportunity to connect with consumers who value supporting small, independent ventures. If you’re a small business, it’s time to embrace your small business identity and offer compelling promotions. If you’re not, you can still capitalize on the holiday by supporting other small businesses and making an impact on your customers. 

Cyber Monday - November 27

Cyber Monday, which follows the Thanksgiving weekend, is a digital shopping phenomenon known for exclusive online deals and discounts. For e-commerce businesses, it represents a golden opportunity to boost sales and engage tech-savvy shoppers. 

Expected consumer spend – More than $11 Billion

Popular trends – Electronics, apparel, and home goods.

Effective marketing techniques – Cyber Monday marks the peak of the holiday shopping season. Thus, it is crucial for you to implement effective marketing strategies that capture their prospects’ attention and put your brand on the top of your customers’ minds compared to that of your competitors. 

Here are some of the strategies that can come in handy:

  • Extended Cyber Monday: Cyber Monday is no longer a single holiday but is extended into a week-long event, allowing shoppers to take time and spend time with brands beyond one day. You too can take advantage of this situation and extend your product offerings and deals to cover for a week. 
  • E-commerce store optimization: The competition will be huge on Cyber Monday — don’t let factors like slow loading times, bad UI/UX to cause your shoppers to drop off. Ensure your website is optimized for speed and ease of navigation. Remember, a user-friendly experience can significantly impact conversion rates. 
  • The importance of social media: Social media is a powerful tool for businesses to promote their Cyber Monday sales. Make sure to promote your sales on all of their social media channels, and also run social media contests and giveaways to generate excitement.

By keeping these trends in mind, you can create a successful Cyber Monday sale that will boost their sales and grow their customer base. 

December

Peak season is over, but for e-commerce businesses such as yours, it’s not yet time to sit back, relax, and write your Christmas lists. You still have just a couple more hurdles left to end the year on a successful note. 

Close to 30 days in between to major shopping/ customer spending days of the holiday season. Goodbye Cyber Monday, Hello Christmas. 

Christmas - December 25

Christmas, celebrated on December 25th worldwide, is a time of joy, celebration, and gift-giving. 

For e-commerce businesses, it’s also a season of tremendous sales potential, thanks to shoppers’ decision to actively seek the perfect gifts for loved ones and themselves. 

Expected consumer spend – Average spend of over $725 for men and $609 for women in the US

Popular trends – Toys, electronics, and apparel

Effective marketing techniques – Here are some ideal marketing techniques that e-commerce businesses can come up with to have a great Christmas sale and successfully culminate the holiday season:

  • Festive Visuals: Decorate your website and social media profiles with festive visuals, evoking the Christmas spirit.
  • Social Media Campaigns: Run Christmas-themed social media campaigns, contests, and giveaways. Encourage customers to share their holiday purchases using a dedicated hashtag.
  • Bundled Gift Sets: Create attractive bundled gift sets that offer savings and convenience for shoppers.
  • Last-Minute Shopping Promotions: As Christmas draws near, offer last-minute shopping deals and guaranteed delivery options to cater to procrastinating shoppers.
  • Post-Christmas Sales: Extend the holiday shopping season with post-Christmas sales to capture gift card redemptions and late shoppers.

In conclusion, Christmas is a season of joy and giving, making it the perfect time for e-commerce businesses to spur their customers to spend more. With well-planned marketing strategies, you can ensure that this Christmas becomes a season of success for your business.

New Year’s Eve - December 31

Almost done. We’ve now come to the ‘thank you note’ of the holiday season. New Year’s Eve — a time that is mostly for celebrations and parties but is also a great opportunity for e-commerce businesses to capitalize on customers looking to end the year with a bang and kickstart the new one. 

Expected consumer spend – More than $100 on an average 

Popular trends – Apparel, accessories, and alcohol

Effective marketing techniques – Here are some ideal marketing techniques that e-commerce businesses can come up with to have a successful New Year’s Eve sale:

  • Themed Marketing: Use New Year’s Eve themes and visuals in your marketing materials to set the mood.
  • Social Media Engagement: Utilize platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to welcome your customers to the new year and make a great impact.
  • Last-Minute Deals: Conduct clearance sales for your older products as a way to attract last-minute shoppers who are still looking to make the most of great deals.

By keeping these trends in mind, e-commerce businesses can create a successful New Year’s Eve sale and end the year on a high note. 

Adhering to the marketing calendar and implementing the strategies required is just one half of your holiday planning task.

There exists a bigger, much more important half that plays major roles in influencing your customers’ experiences, repeat shopping, and all the other factors that ensure that one time holiday shoppers become loyal customers. And that half is just about getting better at giving your customers what they want — hand over your customers’ parcels to them on time.

End of Part 1

Part 2: Holiday Shipping Deadlines (FedEx and UPS)

As we mentioned, preparing yourself for great holiday sales is just halfway to the finish line. Getting your products into customers’ hands is a bigger challenge for e-commerce businesses during this busy season. 

On the one hand, carriers are straining their capacity to ship out huge volumes of packages during the holiday rush. On the other hand, on-time deliveries and the overall post-purchase customer experience play a key differentiator for businesses. So know what steps you must take to get on the right track this holiday season.

To make things simpler for you, we’ve noted important holiday-season dates for UPS & FedEx and have presented them to you. 

UPS Holiday Schedule

To help shippers plan their deliveries for the holidays accordingly, UPS releases their schedule, i.e., a calendar with information on when services will not be operated, special restrictions for certain services and geographical locations, etc. 

Staying updated on this schedule can help e-commerce businesses such as yours follow shipping deadlines and send out deliveries on time.

Thanksgiving

November 23, 2023, Thursday: Thanksgiving (UPS Holiday) – No UPS pickup or delivery service. UPS Store locations are closed. UPS Express Critical service will be available. Call 1-800-714-8779 or visit upsexpresscritical.com

November 24, 2023, Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) – Normal pickup and delivery service.

Christmas

December 24, 2023, Monday: Christmas Eve – Unlike last year, where services were operated with modifications, UPS this year will have their pick up and delivery service closed on Christmas Eve, with The UPS Store being opened only in select locations (check with your local store for specific hours of operation). UPS Express Critical service will be available. 

December 25, 2023, Monday: Christmas Day (UPS Holiday) – No UPS pickup or delivery service. The UPS Store locations are closed. UPS Express Critical service will be available.

New Year

December 31, 2023, Sunday: New Year’s Eve – Similar to Christmas, UPS this year will have their pick up and delivery service closed on New Year’s Eve, with The UPS Store being opened only in select locations (check with your local store for specific hours of operation). UPS Express Critical service will be available. 

January 1, 2024, Monday: New Year’s Day (UPS Holiday) – No UPS pickup or delivery service. UPS Store locations are closed. UPS Express Critical service will be available.

FedEx Holiday Schedule

Similar to UPS, FedEx announces their holiday service schedule YoY to help businesses that ship plan their dates accordingly and avoid shipping delays. 

If you’re a business that uses FedEx for your shipping needs and isn’t much worried about service delays on the assumption that you can claim refunds via FedEx’s Money-back guarantee policy, know that from December 13, 2022, to January 2, 2023, the FedEx money-back guarantee will be temporarily suspended for select FedEx Express services for U.S. domestic and U.S. export shipments. Thus, make shipping on time your priority to avoid a bad customer experience and unnecessary costs. 

Thanksgiving

November 22, 2023, Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving)  – FedEx Ground, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx SmartPost, FedEx Freight, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. Early on-call pickups in some areas for FedEx Express. FedEx Office locations will close by 6 PM.  

November 23, 2023, Thursday (Thanksgiving) – Only FedEx Custom Critical will be open. All other services will be closed for Thanksgiving. FedEx Trade Networks is subject to availability.  

November 24, 2023, Friday (the day after Thanksgiving)  – FedEx Ground, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx SmartPost, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. Only FedEx Freight will be closed.  Early on-call and dropbox pickups in some areas for FedEx Express. FedEx Office locations will open by 7 AM or at their regular time.

November 25, 2023, Saturday – FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx SmartPost, FedEx Trade Networks, FedEx Office, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight will be closed. Early on-call pickups in some areas for FedEx Express.

November 26, 2023, Sunday – Only FedEx Trade Networks, FedEx Office, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, and FedEx SmartPost will be closed. FedEx Home Delivery will be made only in Sunday-eligible stations.

Christmas

December 16, 2023, Saturday – FedEx Express, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Office, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight will be closed. No pickups, but deliveries will be made as usual via FedEx SmartPost. 

December 17, 2023, Sunday – Only FedEx Office, FedEx Custom Critical, and FedEx Trade Networks will be open. FedEx Express, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx SmartPost, and FedEx Freight will be closed. FedEx Home Delivery will be made to Sunday-eligible stations.

December 18, 2023, Monday to December 21, 2023, Thursday – All services will be open.

December 22, 2023, Friday –  All services will be open with Early station, on-call pickups, and dropbox closings in some areas for FedEx Express. FedEx Freight will be working on a modified schedule with its pickup and delivery options. For example, parcels picked up today will resume on December 27 and be delivered on December 28.  

December 23, 2023, Saturday –  FedEx Express, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight will be closed. No pickups, but deliveries will be made as usual via FedEx SmartPost. FedEx Office locations will have modified hours the day before the holiday, with some locations closing early. Please contact your local FedEx Office location for details.

December 24, 2023, Sunday (Christmas Eve) – Only FedEx Custom Critical will be open. Almost all other services will be closed for Christmas Eve. Sunday residential delivery will not be available to all destinations except for stations that deliver on Sundays, which are open. FedEx Office locations will have modified hours, with some FedEx Office locations closed. Please contact your local FedEx Office location for details. 

December 25, 2023, Monday (Christmas) – Only FedEx Custom Critical will be open. All other services will be closed for Christmas. FedEx Trade Networks is subject to availability. 

December 26, 2023, Tuesday – All services will be open. Parcels picked up by FedEx Freight on December 22 will be delivered today.

New Year

December 27, 2023, Wednesday, and December 28, 2023, Thursday – All services will be open. 

December 29, 2023, Friday – FedEx Ground, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx SmartPost, FedEx Office, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. FedEx Freight will only be open with for pre-arranged pick-up and delivery shipments. Freight shipments picked up today will resume on January 3 and will be delivered on January 4. Early on-call and drop box pickups in some areas. 

December 30, 2023, Saturday – FedEx Express, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Office, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight will be closed. No pickups, but deliveries will be made as usual via FedEx SmartPost. Early station, on-call pickups, and dropbox closings in some areas for FedEx Express. 

December 31, 2023, Sunday (New Year’s Eve) – Only FedEx Custom Critical will be open. Almost all other services will be closed for New Year’s Eve. Sunday residential delivery will not be available to all destinations except for stations that deliver on Sundays, which are open. FedEx Office locations will have modified hours, with some FedEx Office locations closed. Please contact your local FedEx Office location for details. 

January 1, 2024, Monday (New Year) – Only FedEx Custom Critical will be open. All other services will be closed for the New Year. FedEx Trade Networks is subject to availability.

January 2, 2024, Tuesday – All services will be open. 

Bottom Line

Following the Holiday calendar can help you with your marketing campaigns by giving you data like important shipping dates, popular products on particular days, effective short-term marketing techniques, and sales data. 

Similarly, following the schedule of services and operations from shipping carriers like FedEx and UPS can help you plan your shipping game in advance and not succumb to sky-rocketing surcharges. 

That’s not all! Planning for the holiday season is a huge task that requires you to tick all the boxes and have everything ready in place to manage the upcoming rush and whatnot. 

One area that most businesses unwillingly ignore is the post-purchase phase, which holds incredible value in boosting retention rates and revenue. To help you tick that box as well, we’ve come up with a downloadable guide that you can make use of. Follow the strategies in the guide and not just cover but dominate your post-purchase customer experience for this holiday season. 

Sashank Ravindranath

A writer by passion, currently exploring creativity by writing new forms of content. Enjoys weekends by watching or reading Sci-fi/ Superhero/ Thriller stuff.

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