With weather necessities, back-to-school shopping, and festivals galore, summer is the perfect (and profitable) pit-stop between winter holidays. Mid-July’s Amazon Prime Day alone generates $4.19 billion in sales, the highest online shopping day not in November. For ecommerce brands, summer, and the spring months leading up to it, can mean more than just extra spending cash — it can fund all your Q4 investments for an even bigger payoff later.
So how can you make the most out of this timely opportunity? How do you adjust your strategy to take advantage of summer shopping? Below, we explain what’s hot for spring and summer, broken up by month, so you can optimize your sales strategy and avoid any dog days.
Transitioning from the slow-sales part of winter to spring, there’s not much of a shopping spike in March… making it the ideal time to start preparing for your summer strategy!
Rather than using this time to convince winter-weary shoppers to spend more, take a step back and prepare for the more profitable months ahead. Research trends, think up new marketing campaigns, plan your Q2 & Q3 budgets, check prices for restocking, and make any new hires on your list. If you’re planning a rebranding or site redesign, now’s the time to do it.
That’s not to say March is completely absent of shopping opportunities:
- St. Patrick’s Day: green decorations, green clothes, and green gag gifts under $20.
- Tax software and materials
- High-end summer goods for early-bird shoppers: grills, pools, sports equipment, etc.
- Prank and gag gifts to prepare for April Fool’s Day.
The first month of Q2, let April showers wake you from your sales slumber. April is slow enough that you can plan your summer strategy leisurely, but there’s still plenty of shopping days to keep you busy.
- Easter: toy baskets, stuffed animals, decorations, and almost as much candy as Halloween.
- Prom shopping: fashionable apparel and accessories, not to mention flowers.
- Earth Day might inspire a bump in eco-friendly products, or present a good chance for a “green” sale.
- Tax software and items (for everyone who put it off last month)
- Graduations: gifts and cards for college grads, not to mention party supplies.
- Spring Cleaning: April is when people start their spring cleaning, so cleaning products and gadgets like vacuums see a small boost.
As of 2018, May is the 4th biggest shopping month in the U.S. — the other three are December, November, and October, so May is the outlier for shopping outside the holiday season. That means it’s time to transition from scheming to action and begin putting into place all those campaigns you’ve been planning for the last two months.
May also marks a significant change in weather from the dreary March and rainy April. While it was easy to ignore summer before, the changing weather reminds people that they’ll need new summer equipment (grills, patio furniture, etc.). That’s especially applicable for warm-weather clothes, so make sure to update your online clothing racks.
- Mother’s Day: flowers, cards, jewelry, candles, lotions, and perfumes.
- Warm-weather clothes: shorts, tank tops, t-shirts, sandals, and bathing suits of every size, shape, and color!
- More graduations means keep selling grad gifts, cards, and party supplies.
- Memorial Day: mattresses and home appliances are now Memorial Day traditions, so shoppers expect sales.
- Although Amazon Prime Day is still a couple months away, it never hurts to start preparing early — after all, Prime Day can be the Black Friday of summer if you play your cards right. Follow the month-by-month preparation schedule from our Ultimate Checklist for Prime Day.
Summer has officially started, but June is the smallest shopping month out of the next three. This may be a resting point between May and July to reevaluate your strategies and prepare for the busy time ahead. Amongst other things, that involves restocking supplies and allocating money for next month’s campaigns.
- Father’s Day: watches, tech gadgets, mens grooming goods, and sporting equipment.
- Fourth of July preparation: grills, party supplies, and outdoor decor.
- The beginning of vacation season, there’s an increase in luggage and toiletries, and interestingly, lingerie.
- Last minute Prime Day preparations if you missed anything these last few months. That includes getting an invitation for an Amazon Lightning Deal.
While July is just another month to some ecommerce brands, for Amazon sellers, Prime Day is a veritable holiday. You should treat it as you would the Thanksgiving weekend by, as we mentioned above, starting to plan months in advance.
Aside from Prime Day, July still sees an increase in hot-weather items that coincides with the temperature. Last-minute shoppers are left scrambling for beach gear and cool clothes before the weekend. At the same time, their opposite, the early-bird shoppers, are spending $8.1 billion in back-to-school shopping to beat the crowd.
- Amazon Prime Day: rather than repeating everything here, read our Amazon Prime Day guide to learn the best strategies for this ecommerce holiday.
- Beach gear: bathing suits, towels, sunglasses, sunscreen, and other equipment like toys and umbrellas.
- Early July is known for Fourth of July parties, so have some patriotic gifts and party decorations available.
- Back-to-School Shopping: The last two weeks of July are the second-biggest period for back-to-school shopping. Read our guide to see who’s buying what.
The ecommerce summer shopping season ends with a bang: August is the 5th biggest shopping month, coming in just after May. This is the main month for back-to-school shopping, but also gives early-bird shoppers a chance to purchase all their fall and winter clothes before prices get higher.
- Back-to-School Shopping: The first two weeks of August are the busiest time for B2S shopping, raking in $9.9 billion. These aren’t just pencils and copybooks — August sees more demand for school clothes and electronics, in particular laptops and computers.
- Fall clothing: Clothing and accessories make up more than half of all B2S profits, so don’t neglect them when divvying out your discounts.
- Opportunistic shoppers know the best prices come immediately after demand falls. August sees a peculiar increase in summer goods from people shopping for next year.
There’s no rest for a diligent ecommerce brand. Just as you’re recovering from your summer sales season, it’s time to start preparing for the winter holidays. It’s just a few weeks before people start shopping for Halloween costumes, and by then you’ll start seeing Christmas decorations.
As a closing tip, allot some of your summer profits to invest into winter holiday campaigns — as the top three sales months approach, you’ll be happy to have reserves to draw on.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published April 2014 and was updated in July 2019 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.