This article was updated on August 18, 2022
As the summer’s heat begins to dissipate, we find ourselves nearing Labor Day. This holiday weekend is a last hurrah of sorts for summer fun. Whether spent at a barbecue, water park, or beach, many people use this long weekend trying to savor the last remnants of summer sun before the days grow shorter.
For many Americans, Labor Day is the perfect excuse to shop for home goods, clothing, and appliances. To help local small businesses compete with the deals offered by national retailers, this article will dive into some quick stats about what Labor Day means for shoppers, followed by some Labor Day marketing ideas to help you stand out and maximize profits.
1. Know your market
Inflation continues to drive up the price of goods and services around the country, but according to data and predictions from the Federal Reserve, consumer spending isn’t slowing down as much as expected:
- In May of 2022, the Consumption Expenditures Price Index (which indicates the overall rise or fall in prices of goods and services), was up 6.3% compared to May of 2021.
- During the same month, Bloomberg economists predicted a 0.3% decline in consumer spending.
- Despite predictions for a decline, spending rose 0.2% between April and May of 2022, indicating stable spending despite increased prices.
Since the Federal Reserve expects this consistent (but not decreasing) spending to continue, there may still be opportunities for your small business during the 2022 Labor Day shopping season.
In 2021, WalletHub reported the following regarding Labor Day expenditures:
- The average American family spent $849.00 per child for back-to-school expenses (and $1,200.00 per person for college students) during Labor Day sales.
- Average households spent $2,470 on vacations in 2021 (up 107% from 2020), and more than 50% of Americans traveled during Labor Day weekend.
Americans still spent money on back-to-school items and travel during Labor Day weekend in 2021, despite generally fewer and smaller sales and promotions during last year’s holiday.
How Labor Day could impact sales this year
No Labor Day celebration would be complete without a Labor Day sale. Shoppers in 2022 are particularly excited about the prospect of both Labor Day sales and this year’s sales tax holidays, which will proceed as planned despite rising inflation and a relatively stagnant economy. But it’s important to note that:
- Only 17 states will offer tax holidays in 2022, compared to 19 (a historical high) in 2010. The same number of states offered a tax holiday in 2021.
- Not all goods are exempt, so be sure to check your state sales tax codes before advertising a tax holiday on your small business page.
- Sales tax holidays generally only increase spending in middle- to high-income tax brackets. This historic tendency could help you determine how a tax holiday will impact your target market.
Combining the promotional power of sales tax holidays with consumers’ highly-anticipated Labor Day sales could increase your business. In turn, the combination could increase spending in your local economy for the first time this year.
Whether you operate a local gym, restaurant, coffee shop, or retailer, you can use these stats to help you create a marketing campaign to enjoy substantial success this Labor Day.
2. Meet your customers where they want to shop
Now that we’ve explored some market considerations from 2022, let’s dive into promotional strategies and Labor Day advertising ideas.
As e-commerce continues to grow, a recent economic report predicts that online shopping will account for just over 20% of global retail spending by the end of 2022. That’s up from just 10% in 2017.
What does that mean for local small businesses? Labor Day is the perfect time to beef up your digital presence and capture customers online. By slightly shifting your digital marketing strategy through emails and other channels and finetuning your Labor Day message, you'll be able to celebrate the Labor Day event with new customers and higher sales.
Of course, not every small business can make its sales online. Gyms, restaurants, and coffee shops all require foot traffic. Still, that doesn’t mean that these types of companies can’t take advantage of the increasingly digital nature of consumer spending, such as digital gift cards.
Don’t believe us? Here are two small businesses that successfully pivoted to digital:
Geppetto’s in San Diego, CA
This San Diego toy store invested in its website and shifted focus to online orders and in-store pick-up. As a result, president Brian Miller saw monthly increases in sales due to these convenient options.
Two Hands Paperie in Boulder, CO
At this Boulder, Colorado stationery store, co-owner Mia Semingson introduced curbside pick-up for online purchases and even acquired a warehouse to store online orders.
Like Semingson, you don’t have to use digital tools just to promote online shopping. Try to incorporate e-commerce-style promotional strategies to draw in-person visitors if you operate a brick-and-mortar business:
- Consider using online platforms to drive in-person numbers through either organic or paid social opportunities. Offer special discounts or promotions to customers following your business’s online presence.
- Offer an incentive for customers who bring followers to your social media pages or other online platforms.
- Most small businesses don’t have significant time or a budget to devote to marketing, so consider using a hyper-localized platform such as Nextdoor. It’s free and simple to create a Nextdoor Business Page. Share your business’s Labor Day plans and connect with your local customers.
3. Embrace sales, discounts, promos, and more
Labor day is known for its seductive sales, pushing consumers to open their wallets and spend big. There are creative ways that small business owners can entice would-be buyers with an ultimate deal. If you are looking to attract potential customers, offering a Labor Day deal is an excellent opportunity to do so.
Lure new customers with new customer deals
Imagine you have a customer named Jim. Jim was planning to stop by Labor Day weekend regardless of whether you offer any discounts. That means that without any discounts, Jim might pay $50, but with discounts, he would pay less. That’s what we call an opportunity cost.
Now imagine a new customer who has never visited your storefront. By offering new customer-specific promotions, you can attract them without the theoretical loss of profit you’d experience from a current customer who would have already stopped by.
New customer promotions can help you grow your overall audience and increase customer spending while minimizing these opportunity costs. Offering some type of Labor Day deal can incentivize customers and attract new ones.
Throw in free shipping
Free shipping can actually incentivize customers to purchase more. According to a recent survey:
- 50% of respondents avoid companies that don’t offer free shipping
- 77% of respondents didn’t complete a purchase because of pricey shipping options
- 84% of respondents made a purchase specifically because of free shipping
- 30% of respondents always increase their order size for free shipping
Just ask Jeff Neal of the Critter Depot. At his business, he combines product and shipping costs into the price customers see, resulting in a higher conversion rate. Neal believes the convenience, lack of hidden fees, and appearance of free shipping are responsible for this increased conversion rate.
In other words, if you can’t afford to offer free shipping, you don’t have to. Invisibly building shipping costs into the overall product cost can give customers the experience of free shipping.
4. Pick a message and stick with it
Your Labor Day promotion should also have a catchy and memorable message, so a simple, "Happy Labor Day!" may not suffice. Consistency in messaging is key when it comes to marketing. Instead of confounding your audience with different messages about your Labor Day special, pick one and amplify it across all of your advertising channels. This might be:
- The kind of sale you’re offering
- The special product or service that you’re including in a sale
- A themed event you’re sponsoring to promote your business
Try to incorporate your unique offerings into the message.
For example, a restaurant might want to offer their food specials for customers excited about Labor Day outdoor events:
Put down the tongs and pick up a cold one—we’ll provide the grub for your Labor Day cookouts.
A nail salon might want to target those who savor the last chance to wear the season’s shades:
This weekend is your last chance to rock your summer mani-pedi: Buy a pedicure and get the manicure for free.
A plumber might even capitalize on the extra free time homeowners might feel obligated to spend on housework by offering their own services:
3-day weekends shouldn’t be for to-do lists. This Labor Day, let us do the labor, and you do the relaxing with half off labor costs.
5. Advertise, advertise, advertise
Ideally, you’ll be able to utilize free advertising space to notify neighbors of your Labor Day discounts or promotions. Here are a few places to start:
- Your brick-and-mortar location – The customers you see every day will definitely want to know about any upcoming Labor Day offers or services you’re planning. Put up signage in your business and garner excitement with your loyal customers.
- Social media – Social media is where your customers live. Make sure they know what specials you have in store by posting about your business on their favorite local platform.
- Nextdoor - With a Nextdoor Business Page, small businesses can share deals and announcements with their local community—for free. For small businesses with a higher marketing budget, consider paid advertising opportunities such as Nextdoor Ads to reach nearby customers and meet your unique business goals. Local Deals.
6. Offer tips and tricks
Customers love to learn. By offering your knowledge for free on social media, you’ll attract new customers who will trust your expertise. Make your advice specific to what your customers are thinking about for this upcoming Labor Day weekend.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Barbecues and picnics – Three-day weekends are perfect for cookouts and parties. If you run a cleaning service, you can offer tips for getting a house ready for guests (and keeping the party from getting too messy).
- Weekend getaways – People love spending long weekends away on road trips. If you run a mechanic shop, give advice on how to make sure their vehicles are ready for the journey (and maybe hint that it would be a good idea to give the car a check-up before hitting the road).
- The beginning of the school year – As August closes out, parents are abuzz with thoughts of school supplies and getting children caught up on summer reading. If you run a tutoring center, you can offer advice for helping parents get their children back into the swing of the fall semester.
- Summer to fall clothes – The transition from summer to fall can prove to be a fashion conundrum. If you’re a boutique shop, offer style tips for combining fall colors with the summer heat.
7. Partner with other local businesses
Your neighborhood is full of people who want to support you. Offer to partner up with fellow local businesses to amplify each other’s Labor Day events.
For example, if you’re the owner of a barbecue joint, you can partner with a local hardware store to provide all the essentials for a perfect Labor Day picnic, from pulled pork sammies to outdoor grills.
Less traditional Labor Day-geared businesses can also give back to their communities and neighbors by partnering with other local businesses to hold a collective clothing or food drive.
Businesses can also honor each other’s employees with a pre-Labor Day celebration that invites the whole community to join. Include promotional materials or ask guests to sign up to your mailing list to garner interest in your Labor Day sales and offerings.
8. See what works
If you’re going to reduce your profit margins to draw in buyers with exciting deals and discounts, make it worth your while. Consider focusing not just on profit but on long-term strategy.
How? Here are two ideas:
Utilize A/B testing
A/B testing is a statistical method to compare two distinct things. You’re creating a simple, randomized controlled experiment to gather data. For example, you could advertise two similar types of coupons:
- Buy One, Get the Second 50 Percent Off
Seeing which of these coupons is redeemed more often gives you imperfect but helpful data to help shape your future marketing efforts. Remember that sales are sometimes more about the appearance of a good deal, rather than an objectively good deal, and the language you use can make all the difference.
Collect customer data or support
If you know what to do with it, customer data is an invaluable commodity that you can use to make future business decisions. Offer a discount for customers who complete actions such as:
- Completing a short survey
- Signing up for your mailing list
- Following you on social media
The customer is happy because they received a deal with very little effort, and now you have more data to fuel your business or build a larger digital footprint.
9. Host an event
People continue to return to in-person events in 2022, and this Labor Day may be no exception.
Simply put, people are excited about getting back to in-person activities—but, they’re also burnt out from two years of virtual events. A recent report found that 71% of event attendees felt that virtual events simply didn’t live up to the in-person experience.
Harness the return to the real world with a Labor Day event that will draw in customers. Even if your business is primarily online, you can still host a Labor Day promotional gathering.
Here are some ideas for Labor Day celebrations than can increase your traffic and sales:
- Host a barbecue – Barbecues are a Labor Day staple for many. Why not host one in the parking lot of your brick-and-mortar store, or at a local park if you run a virtual business?
- Throw a pool party – If you have yard space surrounding your business, consider throwing a “pool party.” While you likely don’t have a pool on the premises, you can set up water slides, sprinklers, water balloons, and more.
- Plan a movie night – For many students, Labor Day weekend is the last celebration of the summer. Cater to a younger demographic or hone in on nostalgia by offering a movie night, screening a summer classic like Jaws.
10. Offer new branded merch
Does your small business offer T-shirts, hats, or hoodies? If not, Labor Day is the perfect time to introduce some new branded merchandise into your inventory.
Wearables can be excellent advertising. When a customer runs errands in a shirt with your logo on it, they essentially become a walking billboard for your brand.
Plus, you can combine your merch strategy with a Labor Day sale:
- Offer a discount on products or services if customers purchase merch.
- Give customers who wear a company shirt or hat during their visit an extra discount.
- Provide coupon codes to fans who share a picture of their merch on social media.
To make the product more enticing, you can also pair it with a Labor Day giveaway. Make sure your company's logo is prominently displayed on the merchandise to boost brand awareness.
11. Partner with a local school
Depending on the school year schedule where you live, Labor Day weekend may be the first school holiday of the year in your area or the last summer celebration before the first bell rings. Either way, the end of summer break and Labor Day are intrinsically linked.
Draw in customers and support your local education system by partnering with a school in your area for a Labor Day promotion. For your business, that could entail:
- Running a school supply drive benefiting students and teachers in your neighborhood
- Offering a portion of the proceeds from your Labor Day sales to a local school
- Providing an incentive program for students who strive to get good grades this year
12. Join forces with a local organization
Hosting a promotion with a local community organization could boost your brand recognition and draw in customers this Labor Day weekend.
Whether you host a barbecue, a donation drive, or a joint promotion event, the following organizations in your area may be interested in teaming up to promote both of your interests:
- Community service organizations, like:
- Kiwanis Club
- The Elks
- The Moose Lodge
- Women's organizations, like your local NOW chapter
- A fraternity or sorority at a local college or university
- A medical condition awareness group, like:
- American Cancer Society
- St. Jude
- American Heart Association
Connect with neighbors this Labor Day on Nextdoor
Out of all of these suggestions, choose only those that suit your Labor Day campaign. August is the perfect time to begin planning your Labor Day marketing ideas. Labor Day weekend 2022 is sure to bring out new customers and loyal supporters alike—especially if you offer exciting deals, promotions, merch, or events.
To offer deals directly to your neighbors, start by creating a free Business Page on Nextdoor.
You’ll be able to create free Business Posts to communicate with your neighbors or set up exclusive, hyperlocal deals to tempt customers. Rather than trying to compete with national chains, lean into your strengths as a local small business and connect with your community today.