retail holiday calendar 2021

The Ultimate 2021 Retail Holiday Calendar [PDF]

For businesses around the world, any seasonal holiday is like a big present, ready to be unwrapped. Holidays and are a time when opportunities are a plenty, and you’d better take advantage of each and every one.

The thing is, while most holidays occur on a fixed date, some are more capricious. Take, for example, Thanksgiving which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November — a different day each year.

The following is a month-by-month calendar of some of the major US and international holidays, observances, retail trends and seasonal events in 2021 to help you plan your marketing campaigns around these crucial dates.

Bookmark it or get a print-friendly version of the 2021 Retail Holiday Calendar.

Feel free to jump to any month to see which holidays await you, and start planning your marketing strategy ahead.

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Holidays in January 2021

retail calendar 2021 january holidays

Ski season

Christmas may have come and gone, but the gift-wrapping season is here to stay. January is the time for reconnecting with customers and (re)building the relationship with them.

New Year’s Day — 1 January

Target audience: pretty much everyone

For the first few weeks of January, it’s all about the new year, so you should build your marketing and sales around New Year’s resolutions, gift cards, etc.

Eastern Orthodox Christmas — 7 January

Target audience: the Orthodox Christian community (Russians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Georgians, etc.)

Unlike regular Christmas, Eastern Orthodox Christmas is not as commercialized. Still, selling cards and ornaments is a nice idea. Jewellery, handicrafts and cards is your ticket here.

Also, if you’re in a food business, research some traditional Orthodox Christmas dishes. Show your customers that you care and are willing to learn about other cultures.

Hashtags to use: #christmas #easternorthodox #orthodox

Martin Luther King Jr. Day — 21 January

Target audience: American customers

This is a US-only holiday that celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., a figurehead for the Civil Rights Movement. It’s a good time for your marketing efforts to focus on celebration of kindness, equality and compassion.

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Holidays in February 2021

retail calendar 2021 february holidays

Winter break

On the heels of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’ve got February, also known as Black History Month in the US. For non-Americans, February is the month of love and friendship, as it’s home to Valentine’s Day.

Groundhog Day — 2 February

Target audience: Americans and Canadians

Known throughout the world thanks to the eponymous movie, this holiday sees groundhogs wake from their winter slumber. If they hurry back inside, winter is expected to carry on for a few more weeks; if they don’t, the spring has come.

This is a great marketing opportunity for your business, so put your social media channels to good use!

Hashtags to use: #earlyspring #groundhog #groundhogday

Super Bowl Sunday — 7 February

Target audience: NFL fans (mostly Americans)

Super Bowl Sunday caps off the NFL season — one of the most popular sports events in the US. You can play around with the football theme on social media or when putting up decorations in your store.

Hashtags to use: #superbowl #game #superbowlsunday #superbowlparty

Chinese New Year — 12 February

Target audience: Chinese, people who follow Chinese zodiac

The Chinese New Year begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice and ends on the full moon fifteen days later. It marks the start of the new year according to Chinese calendar.

2021 is the Year of the Ox, which is something you can incorporate into your marketing messages. (Just look at us, having this cute ox in every picture!)

Hashtags to use: #chinesenewyear #zodiac #yearoftheox

Valentine’s Day — 14 February

Target audience: couples, singles, hopeful romantics

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and romance. Unpack your standard sales and marketing toolkit: gift cards, special promotions, chocolate and flower selections, gift boxes, wrapping paper, etc.

Make an effort to think outside the chocolate-filled box. Offer to provide a personalized message with a gift for that intimate feeling.

Hashtags to use: #valentine #love #valentinesday #valentinedaygift

President’s Day — 15 February

Target audience: Americans

This is a US holiday that celebrates the birthday of George Washington, the first president of the United States. In other words, an ideal day for a fun social media marketing campaign!

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Holidays in March 2021

retail calendar 2021 march holidays

Spring cleanup

When snow and ice start to melt away, people quickly warm up to the idea of social gatherings. March marks a terrific start with St. Patrick’s Day — an Irish-turned-international holiday.

World Book Day — 4 March

Target audience: book lovers and casual readers

Is there anything better than the feeling you get when turning an actual, physical page of a book? Kindles are cool, but they’ve got nothing on the high some people get from reading books.

Apart from the obvious (book selections), is there a local writer you could invite for an event and some autograph signing?

International Women’s Day — 8 March

Target audience: women, engaged men and supporters of the equality movement

This day is not simply for gifting bouquets. It celebrates women’s equality and contributions to the world.

Host a charity event, distribute flyers and support the local community. This is your chance to tell your story. If you are a bookstore, invite a woman author to give a lecture and sign books.

Hashtags to use: #womensday #womenday #internationalwomensday

Pi Day (3.14) — 14 March

Target audience: everybody, but especially fans of math

No, this isn’t Pie Day, it’s Pi Day — celebrated because it falls on 3.14 (14 March according to the American calendar format). Create some fun math puzzles or quizzes on your social media channels. Maybe even tie them to your discount codes and promotions!

Note: This day also doubles as Mother’s Day in the UK.

St. Patrick’s Day — 17 March

Target audience: Irish, beer lovers, organizers of social events

You don’t really need our advice on this holiday. Just put shamrocks all over your store and paint everything green (we at Qminder have been ahead of the game!).

But be careful of making this day too commercial and leaning too much into tired stereotypes, though. So no leprechauns, unless you can make it really fun and creative!

Hashtags to use: #irish #stpatricksday #guinness

Passover — 27 March—4 April

Earth Hour Day — 27 March

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Holidays in April 2021

retail calendar 2021 april holidays

Fooling around

April starts with a bang — or, perhaps more aptly, a whoopie cushion fart — but then follows it up with a number of good-natured holidays. Also, for a lot of high schoolers, April is the prom month.

April Fool’s Day — 1 April

Target audience: kids, and children at heart

This is a day for all the pranksters out there. Sell novelty toys or, at the very least, share a joke or two on social media to get people in the mood. Show a sillier, off-beat side of your brand.

You can even pull a prank on your customers, but be careful — not all people might share your sense of humor. A prankee should be the one laughing the loudest, so err on the side of caution.

Hashtags to use: #aprilfools #joke #prank #aprilfoolsjoke #aprilfoolsday

Good Friday — 2 April

Easter Sunday — 4 April

National Sibling Day — 10 April

National Pet Day — 11 April

Start of Ramadan — 13 April

Earth Day — 22 April

Target audience: eco-minded people

Introduce products and services that are meant to support the environment. Underscore the eco-friendly side of your business: how your products are ethically made, are biodegradable, and aim at supporting a sustainable lifestyle.

Still using paper tickets for your queues? Throw them away in favor of a less wasteful digital queuing system!

Hashtags to use: #earthday #climatechange #gogreen #ecofriendly

International Dance Day — 29 April

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Holidays in May 2021

retail calendar 2021 may holidays

Mothers, memorials, and May the Fourth

April showers bring May flowers. The marketing foundation that you’ve built in previous months can then be used throughout the year.

In the US, May is considered Mental Health Awareness Month.

May Day — 1 May

Star Wars Day — 4 May

Target audience: Star Wars fans

May the Fourth be with you! Sell Star Wars-themed T-shirts, cups, toys, clothes, utilities, etc. Don’t have anything SW-related? Use your imagination to give your store a festive flair.

Use this opportunity for some fun interactions on social media. Star Wars is mainstream enough to be enjoyed by all your followers.

Read our article to get inspired by the spirit of Star Wars.

Hashtags to use: #starwars #force #jedi #mayforce

Cinco de Mayo — 5 May

Mother’s Day — 9 May

Target audience: sons and daughters, husbands and boyfriends

Mothers around the world want to feel loved and cared for. Apply some of the tips we’ve shared for International Women’s Day: jewellery, gift cards, clothing, accessories, and special outings.

Offer personalization of products and upgraded shipping options, host a giveaway. Some people think it’s a day for handmade gifts (say, an artsy soap) — well, provide the tools for making them!

NB: Mother’s Day may not be celebrated on the same day around the world, so do your research beforehand.

Hashtags to use: #mothersday #mom #mother #mothersdaygift

Europe Day — 9 May

Eid al-Fitr / End of Ramadan — 12-13 May

Memorial Day — 31 May

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Holidays in June 2021

retail calendar 2021 june holidays

Dads and grads

June is also known as Pride Month — a 31-day long celebration of all things LGBTQ. Don’t be shy, paint your entire store in rainbow colors. Show your love and support. Also, keep in mind that for many students, this would be a graduation month.

Best Friend Day — 8 June

Flag Day — 14 June

Juneteenth — 19 June

Target audience: Americans

Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery. Not your typical retail holiday, Juneteenth is your chance not to upsell or cross-sell, but to increase awareness.

Host or participate in local festivals, parades, cookouts, and contests.

Hashtags to use: #fundraiser #nationalfreedomday #juneteenth

Father’s Day — 20 June

Target audience: sons and daughters, wives and girlfriends

Socks, razors, shaving creams and toolkits are a reliable, if predictable, choice. Curate a special Father’s Day collection of products.

Don’t have men-specific merchandise? Then consider selling greeting cards or special dad appreciation cards instead.

The usual family stories are centered around mother figures, so some fathers may feel underappreciated. Hold a social media contest for the best story about fatherhood.

On social media in general, you should bring out the biggest humor guns you have. If there’s a day that’s custom-built for dad jokes, it’s this one.

(Remember how June is Pride Month? Don’t ignore families with two fathers! Double the dads, double the fun.)

Hashtags to use: #fathersday #dad #father #fathersdaygift

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Holidays in July 2021

retail calendar 2021 july holidays

Summer break

Independence Day may be July’s only holiday of note, but what a holiday it is! Picnics, barbecue and, of course, fireworks — what’s not to like? Prepare the barrage of special deals, discounts, and promotions.

Independence Day — 4 July

Target audience: Americans

This is a time to inject some patriotism into the veins of your shop and celebrate all things stars and stripes. Flags, Budweiser, hotdogs, cookies, fireworks and BBQs — the list goes on. The more festive, the merrier.

Instead of arranging products in the shape of a boring old pyramid, why not try something more creative and patriotic? Say, Statue of Liberty. This may be a bit on the kitschy side, not to mention time-consuming, but the results will be awe-inspiring.

Hashtags to use: #independendecay #fourthofjuly #4thofjuly

Bastille Day — 14 July

Target audience: French people

This is the national day of France, with an official name of le 14 juillet. Frenchify your products by offering wine and cheese tastings, throwing a costume party or even reenacting scenes from history.

If you’re a board game shop, why not use tabletop armies of Orks and Tyranids instead of royal army and revolutionaries? Use your imagination.

Hashtags to use: #bastille #bastilleday #france

Eid al-Adha — 20 July

Tokyo Summer Olympics — 23 July — 8 August

International Day of Friendship — 30 July

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Holidays in August 2021

retail calendar 2021 august holidays

Last taste of summer

Just when Summer is about to find its groove, August is here and we got no more than 31 days to enjoy the last taste of sunshine.

International Beer Day — 2 August

National Book Lover’s Day — 9 August

Target audience: well, book lovers (it’s right there in the name)

This one is easy: organize book giveaways and free book readings, encourage book clubs and give massive discounts. How about organizing a reading competition or asking people for their favorite books from this year? You can create a list of top 2020 books — and make people debate and argue which book is better.

Hashtags to use: #books #bookday #freebooks

World Photography Day — 19 August

International Dog Day — 26 August

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Holidays in September 2021

retail calendar 2021 september holidays

New season

This is a month that is met with groans and heavy sighs from students around the world. It’s back to school, baby! Not only that, but the air gets much cooler and rains much colder.

Labor Day — 6 September

Patriot Day — 11 September

Target audience: Americans

Not to be confused with Patriot’s Day! This is a commemoration day in memory of the people killed in the September 11 attacks.

This isn’t a day for upselling. Focus your energy on caring for the community and telling/sharing stories of real people.

Hashtags to use: #rememberance #nineeleven #patriotday #usa

Oktoberfest — 18 September—3 October

Target audience: Germans and beer lovers

Don’t be confused that Oktoberfest starts in September. It’s a weeks-long event for beer-chuggers and beer enthusiasts.

If you’re an owner of a brewery or pub, this is your day. Host a costume party with beer-chugging contests and live music, and present a selection of your best beer.

Hashtags to use: #oktoberfest #beer #beerfestival #craftbeer

International Day of Peace — 21 September

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Holidays in October 2021

retail calendar 2021 october holidays

Trick or treat

Halloween isn’t the only holiday of note in October, but you can damned well be sure we will be writing about it here.

International Coffee Day — 1 October

Target audience: coffee connoisseurs

Coffee brews, coffee machines and utilities, cups and mugs — these are your tickets on Coffee Day. Make a promotion or collaborate with a local donut shop for additional value (“Three donuts give you a free cup of coffee”).

Go hog wild on social media: post some relatable memes and jokes mixed with educational content (“It’s called espresso, not expresso!”) and personal stories. People are passionate about coffee, an

Hashtags to use: #coffee #cupcoffee #drinkcoffee #drinkingcoffee

Columbus Day — 14 October

Target audience: anyone who wants to keep his job :)

This is an opportunity to liven up the atmosphere with quirky office gifts: T-shirts, posters and mugs with ironic prints. How about a punching bag or a stress ball? Or better yet, people might need some party utilities.

Don’t forget self-employed people! What freelancer wouldn’t want a mug saying “WORLD’S GREATEST BOSS”?

Hashtags to use: #bossday #officelife #colleagues

World Mental Health Day — 10 October

Columbus Day — 12 October

National Boss Day — 16 October

Halloween — 31 October

Target audience: kids, parents, party organizers and partygoers

Preparing your store for Halloween is a no-brainer: just spookify the atmosphere in your store with costumes and masks, candies, candles, horror movies, mysterious music, decorations, and pumpkins.

Share some bloody punch recipes on social media or carve a pumpkin with your logo on it. If you’re bold enough, you can even change the copy on your website: instead of “great prices”, put “shiver-inducing prices”.

Put some “fun” in “funeral”.

Read our article for more Halloween tips.

Hashtags to use: #halloween #happyhalloween #ghoststories #halloweencandy #halloweenparty

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Holidays in November 2021

retail calendar 2021 november holidays

Movember

Ever wanted to grow out a beard? Movember is the best time of the year to try this. Whether it’s a thin goatee or a full-on beard, be thankful for what you have: when November comes, the spirit of Thanksgiving is in the air.

It’s not only about trying on new beard styles: you can try new things in marketing too, like finding influencers who can reach your audience.

World Vegan Day — 1 November

Veterans Day — 11 November

Target audience: Americans

Veterans Day honors military personnel who have served the country. Be mindful of commercializing this day! It’s a chance for your business to commemorate and tell your personal story, first and foremost.

International Men’s Day — 19 November

Target audience: men, boys and women who want to gift them something special

We’re not the ones to tell you which are the best gift ideas for men. The usual suspects are ties, socks, shave cream, perfume, etc. — but who says you have to stick to what you know? Be creative with what you offer this day! (And also every other day, for that matter.)

Thanksgiving — 25 November

Target audience: Americans

Thanksgiving is a universally understood holiday. Celebrate American culture and history by organizing family events and fostering a sense of closeness and community.

Offer a heartfelt “thank you” to all your customers on social media.

Hashtags to use: #thanksgiving #happythanksgiving #thanksgivingday #turkey

Black Friday — 26 November

Target audience: shoppers

Black Friday is a day associated with enormous discounts and promotions — so do that. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Just make sure your customers are safe, by employing a reliable queue management system. You don’t want your visitors get injured on this day.

Read our article for more Black Friday tips.

Hashtags to use: #blackfriday #blackfridaydeals #blackfridaysale #blackfridayweekend

Small Business Saturday — 27 November

Target audience: local shoppers

Small Business Saturday is Black Friday, just on a local level. The same things apply: discounts, promotions, and safety concerns. Collaborate with other local shops to bring your marketing efforts to a whole new level.

Read our article for more Small Business Saturday tips.

Hashtags to use: #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smallbizsat #smallbusinesssaturday

Hanukkah — 28 November—6 December

Target audience: Jewish community

Make sure you understand what Hanukkah stands for so as not to look exploitative and culturally insensitive when you put dreidels all over your social media channels. Hanukkah is NOT a “Jewish answer to Christmas”, although it does focus on family gatherings.

Prepare your stock accordingly: candles, decorations and all things that help create a cozy atmosphere. Incorporate blue and silver into your store layout, as these are traditional Hanukkah colors.

Hashtags to use: #hanukkah #happyhanukkah #chanukah #menorah #happyholidays

Cyber Monday — 29 November

Target audience: shoppers

The first Monday after Black Friday is known as Cyber Monday. It’s the holiday for those who like to shop online, which was a huge trend last year.

This one is a no-brainer: offer discounts and promo codes + focus on your online marketing.

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Holidays in December 2021

retail calendar 2021 december holidays

Holiday season

December — the mother of all holiday seasons — is a hectic month, to say the least. So many holidays to keep in mind, but don’t give up, you can almost make out the finish line. End the year with a bang, by exceeding everyone’s, even your own, expectations.

National Sock Day — 4 December

Christmas Card Day — 9 December

Green Monday — 13 December

Hashtags to use: shoppers

Green Monday falls on the second Monday in December. This day is the warning sign: watch out, there’s only 10 shipping days left before Christmas!

Incorporate this feeling of urgency into your every message and offers. Make customers truly feel that you’ve got their back and will help them complete their shopping list.

Christmas Eve — 24 December

Christmas Day — 25 December

Target audience: everyone

Christmas is a holiday you should be preparing for all year round. No one knows better what your shop needs to sell and promote on Christmas than you.

A bit of advice: green and red are the traditional colors of Christmas, but you can add gold and silver, too.

Also, turning Christmas music on is a nice way to create a festive atmosphere. Try to mix it up a bit, as there’s only so many times in a row a man can hear White Christmas and not go insane.

Read our article for more Christmas tips.

Hashtags to use: #merrychristmas #christmasparty #holiday #christmas #christmasgift #happyholidays

Kwanzaa — 26 December—1 January

Target audience: African diaspora, people with African heritage

Kwanzaa is an entire week for families to celebrate their African heritage. Naturally, this means it’s a day of giving gifts of cultural significance: books, costumes, musical instruments, etc.

As a retailer, you’d do better to create an experience rather than commercialize this holiday. Announce your plan to give back to the community or donate to charity.

Hashtags to use: #kwanzaa #7principles #happyholidays

Boxing Day — 26 December

New Year’s Eve — 31 December

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Declare your own retail holiday

Can’t think of a great tie-in promotion for any of the events? Then declare a retail holiday of your own!

Small Business Saturday was started by American Express as a way to celebrate local retail shops. What’s stopping you from coming up with Recycled Gift Day, when you give your loved ones eco-friendly presents from recycled materials?

(Wait, that’s actually good. Dammit, we should’ve trademarked that!)

Whichever holiday you end up with, you will probably need the help of a powerful queue management tool to keep track of customers and offer them a superior experience.

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Any holidays we’ve missed? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below.

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