Is Veterans Day Becoming the Next Black Friday for Retailers?

Veterans-day-salesRetailers are always looking for the next big thing or trend that will spur more sales. Major holidays usually stir the pot quite nicely. So retailers often try and extend the amount of time they can milk out of each holiday. That's why you see back to school specials in July, Halloween stuff in stores by August and Christmas stuff in stores before Halloween. Now comes Veterans Day. Does it have the retail juice to become the next major shopping holiday? The short answer is yes.

There are several factors pushing Veterans Day into major holiday status on the retail calendar. First, the holiday shopping season has come earlier and earlier every year. Used to be Black Friday was the kickoff to the main holiday shopping season. Then, over the last few years, retailer discovered that they could extend Black Friday by offering early BF deals starting weeks before the actual day. That moves the season start back almost to Veterans Day. So it's a natural to extend it that extra week or two and kick off things then. 

ShopperPeople have the day off. One of the main factors in holiday sales working is that people have the day off from work and can go shopping Now granted, this holiday soesn't get the "everybody off" boost of Black Friday or Memorial Day, but there are a significant amount of people who are free that day. On thing going against it though is that it's not a 3-day weekend holiday; it isn't always on a Monday. Other non-Monday holidays like 4th of July and New Year's Day benefit from being a more of a "everybody off" holiday.Still, if some are off, that means more people free to shop.

We've trained customers to expect holiday deals. This has happened all the major holidays – so many retailers have consistently offered bigger than normal deals on them that the customer expects better deals and will wait for them. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy. But it works, we create buying frenzies around those days. I even found an article written to give customers strategies for navigating all the big Veteran's Day sales, something normally reserved for the major holiday sales. In it, the author says, "It's a chance to avoid the crush of 2014 Black Friday sales shopping – without the usual mad rush!"

Vets day kickoffWhich brings us back to Veterans Day. It used to be a minor holiday, usually got a sale, but not a huge driver. Over the years, retailers have upped the ante on Veterans Day, making it a bigger deal. I remember doing ads with barely a better offer than any regular week. Now our clients, like most retailers, offer significantly better deals for this holiday. And for the first time, we're putting together pre-holiday deals the week before. Becoming a multi-week event is the sign of a strong holiday sales period.

So, Veteran's Day may not reach Black Friday status, but it's gaining momentum and can be a huge sales opportunity for retailers today. When it falls on a Tuesday like this year, you can make it a long weekend sale and cap it off with a pressure point on the actual holiday to drive those end of sale sales up. What do you think? Have you found this trend to be true for you, too?

Mike McClureMike McClure, creating Yaffe retail sales since 1991.

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