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The "Holiday Season," typically lasting from Black Friday (the 3rd Friday of November; the day after Thanksgiving) until New Year's Day, is an important sales period for retailers.

Key Events

Black Friday

"Black Friday" refers to the day after Thanksgiving. This day typically generates the largest revenue for participating retailers, as thousands of consumers rush to get a head start on holiday shopping. In 2010, retailers began Black Friday on Thanksgiving night. The early start caused a 28% increase in total sales on Thanksgiving Day. From this, total sales from Black Friday (and Thanksgiving Day) were $648 million total sales, a 9% increase compared to Black Friday in 2009.[1]

Cyber Monday

"Cyber Monday" refers to the first Monday after Thanksgiving. As its name implies, online shopping for the Holiday Season typically begins on this day. Participating retailers realized record sales in 2010, as online sales on Cyber Monday totaled $1.03 billion -- a 16% increase compared to 2009.[2]

Green Monday

"Green Monday" refers to the second Monday of December.[3] Retailers, such as (AMZN) and Target (TGT), typically have special deals for this day. Total retail sales from Green Monday can serve as a confirming signal for Holiday Season performance.

Free Shipping Day

"Free Shipping Day" was created to assist the procrastinating shopper. The actual date is negotiated to ensure that all participating retailers can ship their products to customers by Christmas Eve (December 24th).[4] Over 250 retailers participated in 2008 (the inaugural year), over 750 in 2009 and over 1,000 in 2010.[4]

Image: Holidayseason2010.jpg

Trends and Forces

Holiday Season Crucial for U.S. Economic Health

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Retail sales from Black Friday until Christmas Eve, compared to 2008.[5]

Exponential Growth of Online Shopping

The past decade has seen a tremendous increase in online shopping for holiday gifts, as consumers have either become more cost-conscious or more lazy. The popularity of E-Commerce has even inspired a new shopping holiday, "Cyber Monday," which occurs on the Monday following Black Friday. From November 1st, 2010, until Black Friday, online sales totaled $11.64 billion.[1]

Retailers that Benefit from Holiday Season

Some retailers take advantage of consumer craze to purchase holiday gifts. These retailers typically have popular gift-giving products, such as electronics and apparel, and offer attractive deals.

Retailers that Face Opportunity Cost from Holiday Season

Some competitive retailers do not see significant sales increase during the holiday season. Dollar stores and other off-price retailers seem less attractive, as retailers such as Macy's Inc. (M) provide special deals that give competitive prices.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Northwest Innovation, "Black Friday Sales Total $648M, 11/29/2010
  2. comScore, "Billion Dollar Bonanza: Cyber Monday Surpasses $1 Billion in U.S. Spending as Heaviest Online Shopping Day in History," 12/1/2010
  3. PC World, "ComScore: Last Week Saw Strong Online Shopping," 12/24/2007
  4. 4.0 4.1 Free Shipping Day website
  5. Wall Street Journal, "Late Holiday Shopping Puts Retailers Ahead," 12/28/09 print
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