2020 Holiday Marketing Calendar and Shipping Carrier Deadlines Retailers Must Know16 min read

The fact that this year’s holiday season is happening amidst a global pandemic itself is a challenge for everyone as it is unprecedented

Customers are confused between spending on products that they’re craving and saving money by just going for the need of the situation. Shipping carriers are already straining their capacity due to social distancing norms and supply-chain restrictions. 

Retailers, on the other hand, will need to put in efforts from their end to survive and have a good holiday season run. From optimizing their website to giving precedence to their post-purchase experience, they have a lot to prepare. 

If you’re a retailer, this article is for you!

One of the ways businesses can prepare themselves for the holiday season is by being aware of the important dates and deadlines associated with shipping carriers and important eCommerce events. 

This can help them try out different marketing strategies for the holiday season as well as get prepared to ship out parcels on time while simultaneously being aware that some parcels are bound to be delivered late without succumbing to surcharges. 

Read on to get access to all the critical data you need to plan your delivery game this holiday season. Data like important shipping dates, popular products on particular days, effective short-term marketing techniques, and sales data.

Important eCommerce Events

Important eCommerce Events

Halloween - Saturday, 31st October

Target audience – Americans, especially families with children and pets. 

Expected consumer spending – Consumers in the United States are projected to spend $8.05 billion on the ghoulish holiday.

Trends – Stay-at-home activities, such as home decoration and pumpkin carving have risen in popularity this year.

Homebound activities are the most popular: 53% will decorate their homes, 46% will carve a pumpkin, and 18% will costume their pet. Plans for parties are down 10%, trick-or-treating is down 6%, and handing out candy and visiting a haunted house are both down 7%. 

Ideal marketing techniques – Use carousel ads on Facebook and Instagram to showcase several offers or Halloween-specific content in the same ad. Use link ads on Facebook and Instagram, website cards on Twitter, and promoted pins to put one product or holiday-specific piece of content into focus.

Raise awareness about your upcoming offers, promote Halloween-related tips and “how-tos” with short videos across social media platforms, and retarget these audiences with a conversion message later down the line. 

Halloween Instagram ad

Thanksgiving - Thursday, 26th November

Target audience – Most Americans 

Expected consumer spending – An Average American plans to spend $186 on Thanksgiving.

Trends – Turkey and other groceries required to prepare a nice thanksgiving meal, drinks, snacks, and everything necessary to watch the football game. 

Ideal marketing techniques – Send out a big thank you to your customers by crafting out personalized emails or messages for them. 

You can also offer exclusive deals to your regular customers via emails and giveaways via social media and publish valuable blogs with a lot of DIY and ‘“How to” content. 

Black Friday - Friday, 27th November

Target audience – Holiday shoppers, bargain hunters

Expected consumer spending – Nearly 2 in 5, i.e 37% of the American population plan to spend less on Black Friday this year. And 49% of them plan to do it online. 

Just over 8% of them plan to have a budget of $2000 or more, 16% of them have planned to spend <$500 whereas 25% haven’t planned it at all yet.

Trends – Much like last year, a majority of consumers would be looking forward to electronics, toys, mobiles, computers, gaming, clothing, etc. 

With major brick-and-mortar stores announcing that they’ll be closed for Black Friday, it is no doubt that a lot of shoppers are eager to shop online this time. 

Ideal marketing techniques – Optimize your mobile shopping experience as most of the customers will be shopping from within the comfort of their homes.

Extend your Black Friday deals by a couple of days to keep your customers engaged and make them shop more. The best ploy would be to start early and inform them of the impending offers and continue them until a couple of days after Cyber Monday.

Black Friday Influencer

Small Business Saturday - Saturday, 28th November

Target audience – Your audience

Expected consumer spending – Based on the current forecast, consumers are expected to spend more than $20 billion on this Small Business Saturday.

Trends – Small businesses account for 99.7% of all businesses in the US. This is a huge opportunity for all participating businesses — and not just for brick-and-mortars (Last year, eCommerce sales made up $3 billion of total spending on Small Business Saturday). 

Ideal marketing techniques – Create clear-cut landing pages for Small Business Saturday announcing your deals loud and clear. You can also announce your best deals on your homepage, with a countdown of the time left for the offer to end to create a sense of urgency with the customer. 

Start your ads and email campaigns early, announcing your participation in Small Business Saturday to make sure your customers and community are aware of it. 

Use social media extensively. Share exciting aspects of your business like a tour and candid conversations with your employees or showcase your highlighted products to make the customer feel familiar with your brand. 

Cyber Monday - Monday, 30th November

Target audience – Holiday shoppers, bargain hunters

Expected consumer spending – Cyber Monday eCommerce sales are predicted to hit $10 billion this year. That’s an increase over last year’s $9.4 billion in spending – but a much smaller jump than in past years.

Trends – Clothing, gaming bundles (gaming systems with free games offers), laptops, gaming PCs, and phones are expected to be at peak sales this year. 

Ideal marketing techniques – Businesses can extend their Black Friday deals through Cyber Monday or even a couple of days later. This works as an opportunity to attract last-minute shoppers and the ones that forgot to grab an opportunity on the early deals. 

Businesses must follow the buying patterns of customers on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday as they will look to buy what they’ve missed on the two earlier days. Position your offerings in a way that attracts them. 

Businesses can also run targeted and personalized ads to customers who have been visiting their sites as a way to further pull them in.

Christmas Eve and Day - Thursday & Friday, 24th & 25th December

Target audience – Most Americans, especially Christians

Expected consumer spending – Americans are projected to spend more than $1000 on gifts per person, with total holiday spending exceeding $1 trillion nationwide.

Trends – Following the trend for the past couple of years with the added COVID-19 impact, more consumers will buy their gifts online. 

While gifts, in general, are a trend, a major number of customers will look to buy fake trees, Christmas decor, jewelry, things that their family members and loved ones have aspired to get, etc. 

With many staying indoors and far away from each other, people will look to buy and send gift vouchers, so that their loved ones can buy something for themselves. 

Ideal marketing techniques – Businesses can start their marketing campaigns early for Christmas, even from November. This can help you captivate the audience early by sending out holiday advertisements and seasonal offers ahead of time

Being a small business isn’t easy as all your campaigns will be amongst large businesses, who possess the bandwidth you lack. You can survive this fierce competition by being ready to make quick changes in your strategy. 

You can also try to use an influence. Social media is one of the channels where brands can interact well with their audience, and having an influencer can amplify your brand a great deal and help you sail through the holiday season.

Christmas ad

New Year’s Eve - Thursday, 31st December 2020

Target audience – Most Americans 

Expected consumer spending – More than 80% of customers plan to spend less than $200 on New Year’s eve.

Trends – Much like previous years, people will look to celebrate NYE at their houses or their close ones’ houses.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still at large, usual trends such as travel, barrooms, balls, restaurants, etc. are expected to take a hit this year. 

Ideal marketing techniques – The best idea for a marketing campaign would be to start with a fresh, warm mail welcoming your customers to the new year. This shows that you care about them and will make a great impact. 

The fresh year is your chance to bring out new products or improve your operations. You can also use this as a fresh starting point to attract new customers.

You can also conduct clearance sales for your older products as a way to attract last-minute shoppers who are still looking to make the most of great deals.

Shipping Carrier Events and Deadlines

Preparing yourself for great holiday sales is just halfway to the finish line. Getting your products into customers’ hands is a bigger challenge for online businesses this time around.

In 2020, post-purchase customer experience has emerged as a key differentiator between businesses that sell similar products. If you can allay shoppers’ anxiety around deliveries after checkout by keeping them engaged, you will be on the right track this holiday season.

The holiday season is already infamous for being “the busy season.” The COVID-19 pandemic will only add further strain on shippers and carriers. eCommerce retailers will have to understand the key aspects of shipping during the pandemic to come out unscathed. 

To make things simpler for your business, we’ve noted important holiday-season dates for UPS & FedEx and presented them to you as a downloadable schedule.

UPS Holiday Schedule

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, UPS has temporarily suspended the UPS Money-Back Guarantee (also referred to as the UPS Service Guarantee) for all shipments from any origin to any destination effective from March 26, 2020 until further notice.

On the other hand, a Peak Surcharge will apply to large packages, packages that are over maximum limits, and packages that require additional handling for qualifying customers who at any point during the peak period ship more than 1,000 packages per week or ship more than 10 packages per week that otherwise qualify for any of these peak surcharges. 

The peak surcharges set forth below will apply to all U.S. domestic, U.S. import, and U.S. export shipments, for all origins and destinations, in the amounts set forth below during the specified Peak Period (October 4, 2020 to January 16, 2021).

Thanksgiving

Wednesday, 25th November – Normal pickup and delivery service. All UPS Next Day Air packages picked up today will be scheduled for delivery on Friday, 27th November. UPS 2nd Day Air packages picked up today will be scheduled for delivery on Monday, 30th November (except those processed and labeled for delivery on Saturday, 28th November). 

Thursday, 26th November – Thanksgiving Day (UPS Holiday) –  No UPS pickup or delivery service. UPS Express Critical is available. Call 1-800-714-8779 or visit upsexpresscritical.com

Friday, 27th November –  Normal pickup and delivery service

Christmas

Monday,  21st December – Normal pickup and delivery service. This is the last day to ship UPS 3 Day Select packages for delivery on Thursday, 24th December.

Tuesday, 22nd December – Normal pickup and delivery service. This is the last day to ship UPS 2nd Day Air packages for delivery on Thursday, 24th December. 

Wednesday, 23rd December – Normal pickup and delivery service. This is the last day to ship UPS Next Day Air packages for delivery on Thursday, 24th December with a UPS On-Call Pickup service or pre-arranged scheduled pickup, or by visiting a The UPS Store location or a UPS Authorized Service Location.

Thursday, 24th December, Christmas Eve – Normal delivery service. Pickup service available only for Air and international Air packages if pre-arranged by Monday, 21st December. UPS On-Call Pickup service and UPS Drop Boxes are available for Air and international Air packages. UPS Next Day Air packages picked up today will be scheduled for delivery on Monday, 28th December (except those processed and labeled for delivery on Saturday, 26th December).

Friday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day (UPS Holiday) – No UPS pickup or delivery service. UPS Express Critical service is available. Call 1-800-714-8779 or visit upsexpresscritical.com.

Saturday, 26th December – Normal pickup and delivery service for Air and international Air services only. 

New Year

Monday, 28th December – Normal pickup and delivery service. 

Tuesday, 29th December – Normal pickup and delivery service.

Wednesday, 30th December – Normal pickup and delivery service. UPS Next Day Air packages picked up today will be scheduled for delivery on Thursday, 31st December. UPS 2nd Day Air packages picked up today will be scheduled for delivery on Monday, 4th January (except those processed and labeled for delivery on Saturday, 2nd January). UPS 3 Day Select packages picked up today will be scheduled for delivery on Wednesday, 6th January. 

Thursday, 31st December – Delivery of UPS Air and international Air packages only. Pickup service available only for Air and international Air if pre-arranged by Tuesday, 29th December. UPS On-Call Pickup service and UPS Drop Boxes available for Air and international Air packages. UPS Next Day Air packages picked up today will be scheduled for delivery on Monday, 4th January (except those processed and labeled for delivery on Saturday, 2nd January).

Friday, 1st January, New Year’s Day (UPS Holiday) – No UPS pickup or delivery service. UPS Express Critical service is available. 

Saturday, 2nd January – Normal pickup and delivery service for Air and international Air* services only.

FedEx Holiday Schedule

Consistent with the  FedEx Service Guide, the FedEx Money-Back Guarantee will be suspended temporarily on the following dates:

2020 Holiday Season FedEx Money-Back Guarantee Suspension Schedule

Thanksgiving - Wednesday, 25th November - Sunday, 29th November 2020

Wednesday, 25th November – FedEx Ground, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx SmartPost, FedEx Freight, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. Early on-call pickups in some areas for FedEx Express. FedEx Office locations will close by 6 PM. 

Thursday, 26th November – Only FedEx Custom Critical will be open. All other services will be closed for Thanksgiving. FedEx Trade Networks is subject to availability. 

Friday, 27th November – FedEx Ground, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx SmartPost, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. Only FedEx Freight will be closed. Early on-call and dropbox pickups in some areas for FedEx Express. FedEx Office locations will open by 7 AM or at their regular time.

Saturday, 28th November – FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx SmartPost, FedEx Trade Networks, FedEx Office, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight will be closed. Early on-call pickups in some areas for FedEx Express.

Sunday, 29th November – Only FedEx Trade Networks, FedEx Office, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, and FedEx SmartPost will be closed. FedEx Home Delivery will be made only in Sunday-eligible stations.

Christmas - Friday, 18th December - Sunday, 27th December 2020

Friday, 18th December – All services will be open. 

Saturday, 19th December – FedEx Express, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Office, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight will be closed. No pickups, but deliveries will be made as usual with FedEx SmartPost.

Sunday, 20th December – Only FedEx Office, FedEx Custom Critical, and FedEx Trade Networks will be open. FedEx Express, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx SmartPost, and FedEx Freight will be closed. FedEx Home Delivery will be made only in Sunday-eligible stations.

Monday, 21st December – Wednesday, 23rd December – All services will be open.

Thursday, 24th December – FedEx Ground, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx SmartPost, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. FedEx Freight will be closed. Early station, on-call pickups, and dropbox closings in some areas for FedEx Express. FedEx Office locations will close by 6 PM. 

Friday, 25th December – Only FedEx Custom Critical will be open. All other services will be closed for Christmas. FedEx Trade Networks is subject to availability. 

Saturday, 26th December – FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Custom Critical, and FedEx Trade Networks will be open.  FedEx Ground, FedEx SmartPost, and FedEx Freight will be closed. Early on-call pickups in some areas for FedEx Express. FedEx Office locations will open by 7 AM or at their regular time.


Sunday, 27th December – Only FedEx Office, FedEx Custom Critical, and FedEx Trade Networks will be open.  FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx SmartPost, and FedEx Freight will be closed. FedEx Home Delivery will be made only in Sunday-eligible stations.

New Year - Monday, 28th December - Saturday, 2nd January 2021

Monday, 28th December – Wednesday, 30th December – All services will be open. 

Thursday, 31st December – FedEx Ground, FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx SmartPost, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Custom Critical will be open. FedEx Freight will be open with only pre-arranged pick up and delivery shipments being made. Freight shipments picked up on 31st December will resume on 4th January and be delivered on 5th January. Early station, on-call pickups, and dropbox closings in some areas for FedEx Express. FedEx Office locations will close by 6 PM. 

Friday, 1st January 2021 –  Only FedEx Custom Critical will be open. All other services will be closed for the New Year. FedEx Trade Networks is subject to availability.

Saturday, 2nd January  2021 – FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Custom Critical, and FedEx Trade Networks will be open. FedEx Ground, FedEx SmartPost, and FedEx Freight will be closed. Early on-call pickups in some areas for FedEx Express. FedEx Office locations will open by 7 AM or at their regular time.

How LateShipment.com Can Help You

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LateShipment.com’s Delivery Experience Management (DEM) platform helps eCommerce businesses such as yours:

  • Stay on top of delays by tracking your in-transit parcels across carriers in real-time.
  • Resolve delivery issues proactively with predictive alerts for shipments facing delays.
  • Over-communicate with customers facing critical delivery issues.
  • Send automated delivery status notifications via email and SMS to reduce your customers’ anxiety.

Additionally, LateShipment.com allows you to have your monthly shipping invoices automatically audited for 50+ shipping carrier service failures and claims refunds on your behalf. The claimed amount is directly deposited into your account. This can save you up to 20% of your overall shipping spend.

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  • Audits your monthly shipping invoices
  • Submits refund claims to your carrier(s) on your behalf
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