International Retail Sales Season 2020-2021

It’s that time of year again when many retailers globally do 40% or more of their yearly business. Q4 and January is peppered with holidays all over and retailers worldwide offer incentives for buyers to buy more each year. With the advent of the dominant eCommerce marketplaces pushing their own sales holidays, many more dates have become important in the global sales and marketing calendar of retailers. In this article we’ve summarised the major events to take into account in your international strategy.

Prime Day: Oct 13 – 14th

What was once a birthday party for Amazon’s 20th year has now become a major yearly online event both for Amazon, their main competitors and massese of retailers worldwide (though of course many don’t call it Prime Day!). The exact date changes year on year but it’s recently been confirmed for mid-October in 2020. Retailers can take advantage of this sales period in your usual sales outlets on your own store or via Marketplaces, buyers will be expecting sales generally.
Prime day is pretty global with Amazon offering the sales in US, UK, UAE, Spain, Singapore, Netherlands, Mexico, Luxembourg, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, China, Canada, Belgium, Austria, Australia, Turkey, and Brazil and retailers selling in those countries compete against it.

Big Billions Day: Oct 16th.

India’s Flipcart answer to Amazon Prime Day is Big Billions Day. Like with Prime this holiday moves around but is usually placed between 9.9 (a September sales holiday in South East Asia) and Single’s Day / Double 11. This event is large in India and the rest of South East Asia (SEA).

Singles Day: Nov 11

Alibaba’s main holiday of the year coincides with China’s Single’s Day on November 11th. It’s celebrated as this day in China and Japan. The largest single sales event in the world with Alibaba alone generating 38.4 billion USD in gross merchandise volume (GMV) in 2019, up 26% on 2019. While primarily a Chinese event the day has become popular throughout SEA with events taking place on Lazada and Shoppee the same day, often by it’s alternative name of Double 11.

Diwali: Nov 14

While not a specific online sales holiday this five day festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains is one to be aware of. It’s considered favourable to make large purchases before Diwali and many retailers selling into countries with large populations of Hindi, Sikh and Jains offer significant discounts in the weeks before Diwali.

Black Friday: Nov 27

The day after thanksgiving in the USA. The name was coined in 1950’s Philadelphia when large crowds came out to shop and watch the annual Army – Navy American Football game shopping and creating chaos for Philadelphia’s police department who gave the day it’s name. At this time sales were already popular since Macy’s launched it’s Thanksgiving day parade and sales back in 1924.

Spread to Britain in 2013 by Walmart now Millions of American’s and Brits search the stores, online and offline for deals. Some retailers have resisted taking part in the massive sales day.

Black Friday has now spread to all the English speaking world with others in Europe and Latin America now taking part.

Small Business Saturday: Nov 28

The Saturday after Black Friday. In the US and the UK buyers are nudged to make purchases from small businesses rather than retail giants in a very successful attempt to ensure small business takes advantage of the holiday sales.

Cyber Monday: Nov 30

A continuation of Black Friday with retailers and consumers focusing on online shopping sales on this day. The US National Retail Federation started encouraging this in 2005.

St Nicolas Day: Dec 6th

The traditional day of St Nicolas was when gifts were originally given. Some countries continue this tradition most notably Belgium & The Netherlands who continue to exchange gifts on this day rather than Christmas.

Hanukkah: Dec 10

An eight day Jewish celebration. While not traditionally a gift giving time it’s become more popular to do so.

Double 12: Dec 12

Alibaba’s smaller version, but still huge!, of Singles day

Green Monday: Dec 14

A term coined by eBay in 2007 to highlight what was then the biggest online sales day of the year before Christmas. It has somewhat been overtaken by Black Friday and Singles Day now but still classifies the last major trading day online before the holiday and many retailers and marketplaces continue to offer sales on this day.

Free Shipping Day: Dec 15

In the US, CA, AU, UK and much of Europe the day after Green Monday is Free Shipping day. A last push to get buyers to purchase ahead of the Christmas holiday. Many buyers at this stage, especially buyer’s purchasing from abroad, are already concerned about receiving the gifts in time for Christmas. Many still make purchases but they can be more skewed towards those items not give as gifts.

Christmas Day: Dec 25

The main gift giving day in the Christian calendar.

Boxing Day: Dec 26

In some countries, notable the United Kingdom, the January Sales kick off straight after Christmas. Many shoppers are now looking for bargains over and above gifts. Some though will be looking to buy gifts for next Christmas at a great price.

January Sales: Jan

In most European countries the main January Sales will in fact kick off in January, often from the 3rd of the month.

Blue Monday: Jan 18

The third Monday of the year, calculated (for PR purposes) to be the most depressing day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Many retailers in the UK and Europe will market this day.

Chinese New Year: Jan 25

The last major event of the season. While traditionally a time of simple gift giving the younger population of Chinese are driving up online sales in the proceeding weeks to the Lunar New Year. Alibaba noted a 217% growth in sales before the 2018 new year. Retailers selling into China and the large Chinese communities worldwide offer sales events specifically for this holiday. The main categories are usually clothing, electronics, smart home appliances and health care products.

There’s a lot of holidays to take into account when selling internationally during the holiday season. Many retailers will focus on their core markets but could benefit greatly from being more savvy about international sales as well.

About Mark Ellis

Mark is the VP for Growth and Partnerships at Webinterpret, a leading Cross Border Technology company. Before that Mark was leading the operations for eBay's European cross border program. He has over 20 years of eCommerce industry experience, guiding and delivering strategic change in retailers, working with companies such as Dyson, Regatta, Boots and Arcadia Group, leading multi-million dollar programs for industry giants like Dunnhumby and working with small businesses delivering innovative retail solutions.

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