All over the world, holidays are meant to be days of the year set aside to commemorate a belief or a tradition where friends and family come together in celebration. The holidays are either set by law (federal holidays) or by custom or religious belief. Generally, consumer spending increases during the holidays, making them the profitable periods of the year for retailers. In some cases, sales worth billions of dollars occur during holidays. This article sets to explain which holidays are the most profitable for retailers.

Winter Holidays

According to the research from the National Retail Federation, the Winter Holidays tend to be the period in the year with the highest spending. The Winter Holidays can be defined as the time between November to early January, encompassing Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years in the United States. Americans alone spent about 600 billion during the Winter Holidays of both 2013 and 2014.

In the United States, Thanksgiving marks the start of the Winter Holidays and is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. The tradition of Thanksgiving is volunteering to help the poor and needy and involves people from all walks of life, a tradition that is practiced by everyone from the President to members of the local community. Christmas is observed annually on December 25th, and involves the tradition of gift giving. Other holidays observed during the Winter Holidays include New Years, Kwanzaa (observed by African-Americans as a celebration of their African heritage) and Hanukkah (observed by those of Jewish faith as a commemoration of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem).

Back to school

The Back to School period is one of the busiest in the year for both parents and students, who go on shopping sprees to purchase educational materials including stationery, dorm furniture, tablets, books, backpacks, and smartphones. Retailers usually experience an increased demand for education-related items with annual sales being estimated to surpass 72.5 billion, making the short Back to School period to be the second most expensive periods of the year.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is observed annually on the second Sunday of May. The holiday is marked by a celebration of maternal bonds and motherhood and features the giving of gifts to mothers as well as mother-figures in the society. The holiday is among the most commercialized of all American holidays, with retailers experiencing increased demand, particularly in jewelry. Consumers spend about $19.9 billion on Mother’s Day gifts, a testament of how much reverence Americans place on the holiday.

Commercialization of Holidays

Holidays have become synonymous with consumers spending billions of dollars during these few days in the year. While the commercialization of the holidays is appealing from an economic perspective, the commercialization has been heavily criticized by religious leaders. Critics argue that the commercialization of holidays obstructs their original significance, with too much emphasis being placed on gifts.

Holidays by their Sales

RankHolidaySales, USD Billions 
2Back to School72.5
3Mother's Day19.9
5Independence Day68
6Super Bowl Sunday14.3
7Father's Day12.7
9Valentine's Day18.9
10Saint Patrick's Day4.4