Peak Season 2018: All the dates you need to know

By Paazl
August 2, 2018

Peak season is no longer just about Christmas. Europe has welcomed Black Friday with open arms, but that’s not the end of it. A number of new retail holidays have sprung up over the last few years. In fact the mind truly boggles by the number of peak season dates in the retail calendar. For those that don’t quite know Singles Day from Sofa Sunday just yet, here is the complete list of peak season dates that you need to know.

Grey November

We’ll kick off our list of peak season dates with not exactly a day, but a month. Many consumers want to get their Christmas shopping done early, and retailers want to attract impatient but still savvy shoppers. And so we have Grey November, which is when retailers start offering discounts early without waiting until Black Friday to start the incentives.

Singles’ Day, Sunday 11th November

Singles’ Day is China’s version of Black Friday. As the name suggests this started out as an anti-Valentines celebration which is why it lands on the 11th day of the 11th month. That’s a whole lot of singles ones!

Singles’ Day was started by a group of university students in 1993. Today, this celebration of singledom has turned into a shopping phenomenon where retailers offer discounts to encourage “singles” to treat themselves. This is largely thanks to e-commerce giant Alibaba who have thrown their support behind the holiday since 2009. Last year Chinese shoppers spent a whopping $25 billion making this the world’s largest retail day.

Singles’ Day has made its way to Europe. Brands such as and ASOS have started marketing this day as an opportunity for customers to treat themselves, guilt-free of course!

Grey Thursday, Thursday 22nd November

The day before Black Friday, otherwise known as Thanksgiving is known in retail terms as Grey Thursday. Retailers looking to cash in on Black Friday early have started releasing discounts one day before.

Grey Thursday has attracted some negative press in the US because Thanksgiving was traditionally a holiday and now some stores have started opening so employees are missing out on precious family time.

Europe doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving and it just a regular working day – albeit with discounts – so Grey Thursday doesn’t cause the upset that it can do on the other side of the pond.

Black Friday, Friday 23rd November

Of all the peak season dates, this is the main event. The biggest day for spending in many countries. Seeing as we are pretty sure you know about this one already I’ll try and tell you something you don’t know. Ever wondered why it is called Black Friday? It is because this is traditionally the day that retailers start to make a profit for the year. It marks the beginning of retail’s peak season, which is when many brands make the majority of their yearly income and go out of the red and into the black!

Sofa Sunday, Sunday 25th November

Sofa Sunday is the day before Cyber Monday and so many customers will use this time – whether from their sofa or not – to research their purchases for the next day. Expect another spike in website traffic.

Cyber Monday, Monday 26th November

Cyber Monday is potentially the biggest day for e-commerce. Last year Cyber Monday broke a lot of records. Amazon announced that Cyber Monday 2017 was the biggest shopping day in their company history. Research from Adobe Analytics states that it was the biggest online shopping day in the United States with $6.6 billion in sales, a 17% increase over 2016.

If the trend for going bigger continues this year’s Cyber Monday is set to send online sales through the roof.

Retargeting Tuesday, Tuesday 27th November

One of the less well known peak season dates and also referred to as Bounceback Tuesday, this day is all about targeting shoppers that haven’t parted with their cash yet. Whether they didn’t have the funds to partake in Black Friday or they are saving their Christmas shopping for closer to, well Christmas, don’t let there be a dip in your sales once Cyber Monday is over.

Retargeting Tuesday is an opportunity to maintain the spending momentum of the weekend and remain at the forefront of customer’s minds so when they are ready to part with their hard-earned cash they’ll know where to spend it.

Manic Monday, Monday 3rd December

One week after Cyber Monday we have Manic Monday. This is the day that many consumers plan to have their Christmas shopping completed by. This is often not the case and so retailers see a spike in sales on this day. Online sales particularly peak on Manic Monday as consumers battle to beat Christmas shipping deadlines.

Some retailers use Manic Monday as an opportunity to sell items at discounted prices. Last year British-retailer Argos tempted shoppers with Christmas decorations that were better than half price.

Green Monday, Monday 10th December

This is traditionally the day where those who want to order gifts online decide they better get a move on! It was originally started by eBay as they noticed that it was the best day for sales in December. So you could see your online sales spike.

Free Shipping Day, Friday 14th December

This one basically does what it says on the tin. Free Shipping Day gives online retailers an opportunity to encourage online sales, which may have dipped a little bit after Cyber Monday by offering free shipping.

Since 2013 merchants getting involved in Free Shipping Day should be able to guarantee that all shipments can arrive at their intended locations in time for Christmas.

Super Saturday, Saturday 22nd December

Also called Panic Saturday, this is the last Saturday before Christmas. Super Saturday is a major retail day for last-minute shoppers. The deadline for guaranteed Christmas shipping will have passed for many e-retailers so the majority of shoppers will be heading out to bricks and mortar stores.

Christmas Day, Tuesday 25th December

More Brits shop online than go to church on Christmas Day. If that was the case in 2010 we can safely say that the numbers have been only increasing since then. And it is easy to see why. Many retailers put their Boxing Day offers online a day early so eager customers can get in on the action as their turkey is digesting.

Research conducted by Adobe Analytics showed that in every country there is more sales generated from smartphones on Christmas Day than on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Boxing Day, Wednesday 26th December

The Boxing Day sales typically kick off the day after Christmas and last until mid-January. Much like Black Friday, Boxing Day is known as a big day for shopping especially in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Many bricks and mortar stores will open their doors early on December 26th ready for a full day of trading. In previous years eager customers start queuing outside their favourite stores from the small hours. It is a serious shopping event.

National Returns Day, January 2019

The last day to add to your diary of peak season dates is National Returns Day. Although it doesn’t fall in 2018 I thought National Returns Day was another good date to include. Delivery carrier UPS made National Returns Day popular by announcing it as their busiest day for delivering returns to retailers. It falls in early January, this year it was Wednesday 3rd January and it should fall about the same time next year.

Christmas produces a lot of unwanted gifts and most of those gifts end up going back to the store. In 2018, UPS shipped 1.4 million parcels back to retailers and that is just one carrier! This is the day to sharpen up your returns processes.

Final thoughts

So there you have it, a huge fourteen peak season dates to put in your diary.

It is never too early to start your peak season preparation. So this month we are talking all about Black Friday, Grey Thursday, Boxing Day and the rest. Be sure to check back to our blog because we have more peak season related content and inspiration coming soon.


More inspiration.