The Holiday Selling Season Starts In August Now?

Holiday Parts And Accessories Ecommerce Best Practices

According to a recent Gallup poll, 41% of adults in the United States are starting their holiday shopping before November 1st, with 14% saying they started before September!

  1. Why in the heck are people starting so early? Should retailers start early, too?
  2. If not, when should sales start? What sales should we run?
  3. Do sales even work for auto parts and accessories retail?

We have some answers – and some best practices for holiday selling – below.

Why In The Heck Are People Starting Their Holiday Shopping So Early?

There are several possible reasons that people might want to start holiday shopping early:

  • Looking for the best deal
  • Excitement about the holiday season
  • Avoiding a rush and/or limited selection
  • Too busy to shop as holidays approach
  • Retailers keep trying to make Black Friday happen earlier and earlier (cough, Amazon Prime Day)
  • Taking time to carefully find the best deals, best products, etc.*
  • Avoiding issues with product availability or delivery times*

*We think these last two are the most important reasons, but it’s an open question.

Should Parts And Accessories Retailers Start Holiday Sales Early?

For 2023, we’ve been telling clients to do a combination “Halloween Sale/Black Friday Preview Sale” the last few days of October. The reason? Last year, we saw several companies send out “Black Friday Starts Early This Year!” emails in early November. No retailer wants to be last to announce a sale, so this seemed like a good way to make sure our clients didn’t miss out on holiday shopping.

However, according to the Gallup polling data, maybe Halloween is too late. Maybe holiday sales should start on Labor Day? Heck, why not just do holiday sales all year, right?

There are four problems with starting early:

  1. There are already a few good sale opportunities on the calendar in August, September, and October. “Back to School” is a great sale to run in mid-August. Halloween is a great time for “Scary Savings.” Then, of course, everyone loves a good Labor Day sale.
  2. 60% of consumers don’t start shopping early. Sales are important because they help get consumers excited while also creating a sense of urgency. If “Black Friday” starts on August 1st, the excitement and urgency is all gone by November. And since 60% of consumers are looking to buy in November and December, you’ve got to save something for them.
  3. Shopping isn’t the same as buying. The Gallup poll asks consumers if they’ve started “shopping,” and that word means different things to different people. For some of us, shopping is the act of buying stuff. For others, it’s the act of looking at stuff you want to buy later.
  4. Men aren’t nearly as likely to shop early, and men buy most parts and accessories online. According to our data, about 80% of parts and accessories buyers are men. Buried in the Gallup polling data is this tidbit:

“Nearly a third of women, 29%, had already started shopping or planned to in September. That compares with 18% of men who planned to start that early. In contrast, men are more likely to hold off until much later in the season, with 27% saying they will start shopping in December, more than twice the percentage of women (13%) who will wait that long.”


Men are more likely to start holiday shopping in November or December than women, so it makes sense for parts and accessories retailers to save their best sales for later in the holiday season.

Five Holiday Sales Parts And Accessories Retailers Should Run

There are FIVE important sales for parts and accessories ecommerce that should occur in late fall and early winter:

  1. Halloween/Black Friday Sneak Peak Sale, which should run the last few days of October
  2. Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) Sale, which should start the day before Thanksgiving and end the following Wednesday
  3. Don’t-Wait-Until-The-Last-Minute Sale that runs Friday-Monday following Cyber Monday
  4. Last-Chance-To-Order-In-Time Sale that runs Dec. 12-16th, assuming product is in-stock and ready to ship
  5. Happy New Year Sale that starts Dec. 26th and ends the first business day in January

<<Additional Reading: Budget Parts Marketing Tip: Social Media Is Almost Free >>

Are Holiday Sales Even Worth Doing In Auto Parts And Accessories?

We get asked this question a lot. Many retailers don’t like running sales at all and/or don’t think parts and accessories buyers are motivated by a holiday sale.

While every retailer is a little different, we’ve found that a lot of automotive enthusiasts end up shopping for or even buying their own presents…

  • Imagine being an enthusiast who has to help a spouse or loved one find a gift for you. You’d be sharing links, right?
  • Imagine being married to an enthusiast. Would you know what to buy them? Or would you say, “Why don’t you buy the thing you want and say it’s from me?”

Holiday sales work because consumers are spending money during the holidays, even parts and accessories enthusiasts or the people who love them.

<<Additional Reading: Using Email And Social Media To Build Customer Loyalty>>

What About Gift Certificates?

For people who don’t know what to buy – but know their loved one wants something from a specific retailer – a gift certificate can be a great option. Gift certificates are also one of the few things a person can wait to buy until Dec. 24th or 25th. Yet despite these benefits, we haven’t seen too many automotive parts and accessories brands do well with them.

Part of the problem is that it’s hard to sell a gift certificate in a helpful amount. The average accessory costs more than $300, but most people don’t spend that much on a gift certificate. The other issue is that online gift certificates don’t have the same perceived value as a physical gift card. A printout isn’t as nice of a gift as plastic card in a fun little envelope.

So, if your store is going to offer a gift certificate, our advice is to promote them after December 20th and try and help people combine them with a relevant physical gift. If you explain to the customer that they can go buy a $2 matchbox car and combine it with a card and a printout, that makes it easier for them to visualize giving the gift certificate.

Summing Up

Some consumers start holiday shopping before August, and a little less than half start before November. At Spork, we recommend parts and accessories etailers begin a promotion cycle in August that runs through January so as not to miss out on any promotional opportunity. However, save your best sales for November and December, as that’s when most parts and accessories buyers are looking for deals.

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Auto parts in the cardbox. Automotive basket shop. Auto parts store.