Christmas, Fourth of July, Easter—it might seem like the holidays we celebrate each year are random, but they really aren’t. There is a rhythm and purpose to them. A rhythm and purpose that also serves the purposes of retail business objectives. Holidays are also an excuse to run a sale or promotional event about every thirty days.
A coincidence? I don’t think so.
Our culture used to celebrate holidays only around religious themes. Saints days or solstices. And we still do, but these have gotten mashed up with other secular or national events to give us an excuse for a sale event each month or more often. Several months even have two.
October has Columbus Day and Halloween. Halloween, by the way, has become the second largest sales volume holiday and event behind only Christmas.
February has both President’s Day and Valentine’s Day. January has both New Year’s Day and MLK Day.
Only August is somewhat lean on national or religious holiday events. So we invented Back to School and or Pre-Fall Season as holidays. But don’t be surprised if sometime in the future, other days suddenly take on new a new and enhance meaning: National Acadian Day (August 15), International Left-Handers Day (August 13), or even St. Bartholomew’s Day (August 24), could be celebrated with up to 30 percent off of underwear at Macy’s and an outdoor grill clearance at Home Depot.
One month, December, actually has too many events and sales. After-Thanksgiving Day sales kind of bleed into December; then there are Christmas, Kwanzaa, and of course Hanukkah. Hanukkah and Kwanzaa go on for days. Which brings me to . . .
The expression “Happy Holidays” itself has nothing to do with any particular religion, nor with anti-religious or political points of view. The expression and its use in advertising are driven by purely mercantile needs. There are simply too many holidays during December, and they often overlap. Saying “Happy Holidays” covers them all. If you run advertisements every week (or more often), the more generic greeting means you can use the same headline. It’s all-inclusive. Non-denominational. Retailers are most happy to take the money from believers in anything and non-believers alike. Who doesn’t need new socks at 20 percent off, or BOGO (buy one get one free) oven mitts?
So the next time you hear someone say “Happy Holidays,” remember that it includes everybody who’s looking for a bargain.
Learn more about retail in my soon-to-be-released book, The Five Laws of Retail From di Medicis to Macy’s. Sign up to follow my blogs and to be notified when the book is available.