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Retail Holiday Marketing Calendar: Your 2021-2022 Guide

Michelle Martin

For retailers, holidays are everything.

Sure, you plan for “the big ones,” such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But are you creating a campaign for Earth Day? Back to school? Pi Day?

If not, you’re leaving money on the table. Or the computer screen, as 18.1% of all retail sales take place online now, according to Oberlo, and that’s going up every year.

About 18% of all retail sales take place online now, according to Oberlo.

Plan your marketing calendar ahead of time for the holidays listed below to maximize your profit all year long.

Plan your marketing calendar ahead of time for the holidays listed below to maximize profits all year long.

Holiday and Shopping Event Marketing Calendar for 2021-2022

You probably already plan for the larger holidays on this list, such as the Christmas season. But did you know Mother’s Day is the third highest spending holiday in the U.S.?

Check out the full calendar and marketing tips for each holiday below:

January

New Year’s Day

You may think no one wants to spend money right after the holiday shopping season, but don’t forget about those gift cards burning holes in pockets. You did run a gift card marketing campaign during November and December, right?

A great way to get customers back in store in January is to offer a $10 gift card or store credit with a $50 purchase on Black Friday, or a similar kind of promotion. Make the free $10 card valid from Jan. 1-31 only, forcing people to either use it or lose it that month.

February

Lunar New Year

About 25% of the world celebrates Lunar, or Chinese, New Year. That’s 1 in 4 of your customers. In 2022, the holiday falls on Feb. 1.

Traditionally, red envelopes are exchanged for the holiday, with cash gifts as a sign of luck and prosperity for the New Year. Cosmetics retailer Sephora created a highly promoted Lunar New Year campaign, featuring red imagery and following a theme of giving out red envelopes to in-store shoppers with a discount for a future purchase.

To qualify for a red envelope, customers had to spend a minimum of $88, which is a nod to the number 8 being a lucky number in Chinese culture.

Cosmetics retailer Sephora created a highly promoted Lunar New Year campaign.

The Super Bowl

The actual phrase “Super Bowl” is a registered trademark, which means you legally can’t use it for advertising purposes — at least, without paying a lot of money to do so. That’s why you see so many brands using phrases such as “The Big Game,” “The Game,” “Super Game,” or “Sunday’s Big Game.”

A euphemism and a graphic with a football will be enough to make your campaign make sense to the public.

Valentine’s Day

This one is self-explanatory. A few marketing ideas:

  • Create a gift guide with your products. List out ideas for significant others, moms, friends and others who may give or receive Valentine’s gifts.
  • Offer complimentary gift wrapping services for purchases over a certain amount.
  • Partner with other local shops to offer a giveaway contest on social media.
  • Offer a Valentine’s Day-only delivery service to make it easy to order online and send a gift to someone.

Presidents’ Day

Celebrated on the third Monday of February, this holiday can be a good way to switch out of “holiday” mode and get into the general spring spirit. You can run a simple sale to clear out the remains of last year’s inventory to make room for new products.

Black History Month

While combating racism is a year-round affair, February is a great opportunity to partner with and promote Black-owned businesses.

If you aren’t Black, focus on amplifying the voices of Black people within your community — perhaps your customers or vendors, or feature Black-owned businesses in your area.

It’s a good time of year to check over your company’s inclusion policies and ensure you’re living your values. Look at your website and social media channels. Are your product models or other photos showing people of all different backgrounds? If not, get to work and change that.

March

Mardi Gras

Showcase your company’s fun side with a colorful Mardi Gras marketing campaign. Use bright colors in email blasts and in-store signage to feature a sale, or you could go all out and host a contest. Raffle off a trip to New Orleans and give an entry for every $50 a customer spends.

A Popeyes restaurant promotes Mardi Gras.

Spring Break

With kids out of school, families are out a lot more shopping or doing activities, so if you’re in a mall or near a tourist attraction, take advantage of that. Run a special Spring Break promotion, or simply increase your signage outside your store to draw in the larger-than-normal crowds that will be walking by.

Pi Day

This is one for the nerds. Celebrated on March 14, Pi Day refers to the mathematical constant π (3.14). The holiday is all about eating a ton of pie, so partner with a local bakery to include a coupon for a pie with orders that day (or week).

St. Patrick’s Day

The classic Irish holiday on March 17 involves all things green. For a simple promotion, put everything green on sale, or offer 17% off.

April

Easter

Create a gift guide of your products for parents shopping for Easter baskets for their kids (toys, books, candy), or go a step further and put together premade baskets for customers to buy at bundled price points.

Earth Day

Showcase your commitment to the environment on Earth Day, April 20. Match donations to an eco-friendly charity, or donate $1 from every sale that day to a charity and publicize that to your email list, social media and with in-store signage.

May

Mother’s Day

According to Statista, consumers spent more than $26 billion on gifts for Mother’s Day in 2020. Even if your store doesn’t sell the typical gifts for moms (flowers, jewelry, etc.), try to put together something and market it specifically for Mother’s Day.

According to Statista, consumers spent more than $26 billion on gifts for Mother's Day in 2020.

You also could partner with other local stores to offer a combined gift basket for customers to purchase, or host a social media giveaway contest where entrants have to follow both of your accounts.

Memorial Day

Often seen as the start of summer, Memorial Day is a great holiday to start your summer-themed marketing campaigns. For clothing stores, that could be as simple as showing summer looks in-store and online. Or, you can create a campaign honoring military members and veterans, and donate partial proceeds to a veterans’ charity.

June

Father’s Day

While people don’t historically spend as much on gifts for their dads as they do for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is still worth your marketing efforts. Send out emails with gift ideas for dads, or put together themed gift packs to make shopping easy.

July

Independence Day

Another great holiday to feature promotions giving back to charities for veterans or simply offering a summer sale or 4th of July sale.

August

Back-to-School Shopping

If you sell anything related to back to school, such as office supplies, clothing, shoes or electronics, you’ll want to start promoting these items in August for the entire month as parents gear their kids up to head back in September.

September

Labor Day

This is the “last minute” school shopping time, as well as the start of fall. People are trading summer wardrobes for sweaters, cozying up their homes and thinking ahead to gift buying and holiday season entertaining. Focus your campaigns around those themes.

October

Halloween

Run a social media (or in-store) costume contest, or simply work the spooky imagery of the holiday into your marketing materials for that week.

November

Thanksgiving

Send a quick email to your customers to thank them for their support and wish them a relaxing holiday break. You also can hint at what your Black Friday sale will be like.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

These two retail holidays could be their own post, but safe to say your biggest promotion of the year should be right here.

Keep in mind these holidays tend to be especially mobile-heavy. Google reports that mobile device searches for the term “Black Friday deals” have grown 200% in 2018. That’s going to keep increasing with each passing year

All your campaigns should be optimized for mobile devices, but ensure your mobile user experience is fast and seamless for these ones especially, or you risk losing customers to your competitors with faster websites.

Google reports that mobile device searches for the term “Black Friday deals” have grown 200% in 2018.

December

Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa

Black Friday may be over but don’t forget last-minute shoppers. Run a final holiday gift buying campaign the week before these important holidays.

New Year’s Eve

Create a campaign around thanking your customers for another great year, or host an after-Christmas sale to push out inventory to start fresh for January.

3 Tips to Succeed in Retail Holiday Marketing

1. Create Your Campaign Ahead of Time

Of course you create your campaigns in advance, but do it way before you think you need to. Have your strategy mapped out 6 months away if you can. This way, your assets such as email copy, in-store signage designs, website updates, social media graphics and ads can be created well in advance of when they’re needed.

2. Research Your Competition

You don’t want to copy your competitors but be aware of what they’re doing for holiday marketing. If you want to run a contest, check out past or current ones your competitors are doing. It can inspire you and give you ideas for strategies to work into your own campaign.

3. Include Holiday Dates in Marketing Plans

This sounds simple but can make a big difference. Include the actual holiday dates in all your marketing plans, from the high-level annual plan to the actual strategy for each holiday campaign. It can be easy to get a date wrong for holidays that change, such as Lunar New Year. Don’t tell your staff to post that Instagram photo “on Mother’s Day.” Tell them: “Post it on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2022.”

Save yourself from any potential issues by having all dates for content to go live right in your plan.

If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

Don’t leave money on the table with any holiday marketing opportunity this year.

Plan new products, campaigns or promotions to launch for these holidays to ensure you have ample marketing momentum to take you through the year.

Start planning the rest of your 2021-2022 holiday campaigns now, and get ready to rock your retail marketing calendar this year.

Michelle Martin Michelle Martin
Michelle Martin is a freelance copywriter for business-to-business, software-as-a-service companies looking to stand out and scale up. She is an ex-agency producer and marketing strategist known for quickly understanding and distilling complicated technical topics into conversational copy that gets results.
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