Presidents Day Shopping: How Marketers View Retail Holidays

02.16.18 / Jane Goldstrom / Digital Marketing

The holidays are over, as is the Super Bowl. You're still bundling up for winter, but spring is right around the corner. Those holiday credit card bills are in the rearview mirror, and you've started to bank those first few paychecks of the new year. What do you want to do?

Shop for big box items at a great discount, of course!

Presidents Day is meant to celebrate the birth of our first commander in chief, George Washington, and in some states, includes recognition of Abraham Lincoln as well. It's the last federal holiday for which you (may or may not) have a day off until Memorial Day. It's also one of the larger times of the year for shopping in America.

To get a better understanding of how this day became synonymous with great deals on washing machines, TVs and cars, we turned to MGH President and COO, Jane Goldstrom, to get the scoop.


What is it about Presidents Day that makes it so great for sales?
There's really a twofold answer to this. Presidents Day is typically the first "real" retail holiday after the fourth quarter holidays. If you are in the market for bigger items, it may be the time to get a deal. Also, by February, people are ready to shop again. It helps cure the holiday blues.

What are the most popular items on sale during Presidents Day?
Big-ticket items such as automobiles and appliances. Big screen televisions are also very popular.

How does Presidents Day compare to other sales-driven "holidays" like Black Friday?
The holiday itself definitely ranks low on the list, but as a retail vehicle, it's a bit higher. Think of it as a second-tier shopper's day to the likes of Black Friday. But your brand can still see plenty of traction if you're in the right market.

Any shopping/sales trends you're expecting this weekend?
The big department stores such as Macy's and Kohl's have sales constantly, so they may not expect a big increase. However, for the other items mentioned above, people wait for this holiday and expect to get great deals. Auto dealers will be very aggressive trying to sell last year's inventory, so if you've been putting off replacing that old car, this weekend might be the time to strike for the best price.

From a marketing perspective, do you recommend that brands latch onto these types of holidays?
Depending on the product, we recommend that certain clients take advantage of the three-day weekend. People are always looking for deals on bigger purchases (though that can vary, depending on the product), and this holiday is known for that.

What can a brand gain from doing so?
Like always, any advertising during this period can increase awareness and store traffic. But the fact that so many shoppers are actively looking for the best deals for the first time in 2018 can give some brands a leg up for the first quarter if it's done right.

What are some downfalls to aligning your brand with a day full of sales?
We wouldn't recommend a client discounting their brand too much. If you are constantly having sales, people will feel no urgency to purchase, and instead will just wait until the next one -- which could be a week later. Also, the media climate during Presidents Day is very cluttered, and one's message could potentially get lost.

Any plans to do some shopping this weekend?
No plans for me this year, though I'm not really in the market for any big-ticket items. Then again, if I see the right deal, who knows!

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