A complete look at small business sales on Memorial Day

Today, we’re taking a look at revenue trends for Memorial Day and the days leading up to it. And while Memorial Monday may not be a doorbuster for most local businesses, the week leading up to it is. In fact, for many business owners who thrive on spring and summer sales, it’s better than Black Friday.

Our data science team analyzed transaction trends at hundreds of thousands of small businesses in dozens of industry categories across all 365 days of the 2017 year. For this report, we isolated business categories most likely to be impacted by Memorial Day, including restaurants, bars and lounges, gardens and nurseries, landscaping and gardening businesses, furniture and appliance shops, meat shops and butchers, and boutique retailers.

Here’s what we learned about consumer spending on Main Street during Memorial Day weekend.

Memorial Day’s impact on local business revenues

In our Memorial Day analysis, we looked at sales the holiday itself as well as the week and weekend around it. Let’s look at the week in relation to the rest of the year first.

Bottom line: As consumers prepare for their three-day Memorial Day weekend, they tend to give local businesses owners a significant boost in revenue.

In fact, the week leading up to Memorial Day is the 4th-best week of the year for revenues at local bars and lounges, gardens and nurseries, and landscaping and gardening services. And it’s the 3rd-best week of the year for furniture and appliance stores. That’s better than their Black Friday sales week, which is their 8th-best week for revenue.

  Bars and Lounges 4 +20%
  Beer, Wine, Spirits, and Liquor Stores 9 +24%
  Burger Restaurants 11 +14%
  Furniture and Appliances 3 +37%
  Gardens and Nurseries 4 +45%
  Landscaping and Gardening Services 4 +41%
  Meat Shops & Butchers 7 +23%
  Restaurants 12 +16%
  Retail Shops 11 +14%

Now, let’s look at the holiday in isolation. Somewhat surprisingly, however, Memorial Day itself its a bit of a bust for local businesses. It’s actually one of the lowest ranked days of the year for most industries, with the exception of furniture and appliance stores.

Despite the general drop in spending in the retail industry on Memorial Day, local furniture and appliance store revenues are 62% higher than the average day, making it their 8th-best day of the year and the week leading up their 3rd best week overall.

  Bars and Lounges 225 -24%
  Beer, Wine, Spirits, and Liquor Stores 262 -29%
  Burger Restaurants 350 -25%
  Furniture and Appliances 8 62%
  Gardens and Nurseries 282 -50%
  Landscaping and Gardening Services 280 -60%
  Meat Shops & Butchers 328 -52%
  Restaurants 261 -20%
  Retail Shops 312 -28%

As we saw in the summary above, Memorial Day itself isn’t great for local business. That’s because consumers behave in like they do around Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Independence Day, with a flurry of spending around the day with sales tanking on the actual holiday.

However, as we expand our view and analyze consumer behavior in the week leading up to Memorial Day, we find some fascinating trends.

Transaction volume goes way up during Memorial Day weekend

As the chart below illustrates, the impact of Memorial Day weekend varies across industries, but in general increased sales are driven by increased transaction volume, not higher spending per purchase. Take a look, and note that burger restaurants are the only category we analyzed that were almost dead even with typical sales patterns.

As you can see, increases in sales revenue correlate closely to increases in transactions, not bumps in sale prices. In many cases, such as with local meat shops and butchers, the 25% increase in weekend revenue comes mostly from the 24% increase in transaction volume.

On the other hand, we can see how local furniture and appliance store customers are typically spending about 17% more than average. Paired with a 4% increase in the number of transactions, local furniture and appliance stores see revenues that are 23% better than their average weekend.

The week prior to Memorial Day is one of the best weeks of the year for local business revenue

When we expand our view to the full week leading up to Memorial Day, we can see that consumers are extremely active. For example, local gardens and nurseries saw a 75% increase in transactions and a 23% increase in the average customer’s purchase size. Combined, this gives local gardens and nurseries a 45% lift in weekly revenue, which makes the week leading up to Memorial Day their 4th-best week of the year.

One storyline that jumps out is the huge lift that both gardens/nurseries and landscaping and gardening businesses experience. If consumers aren’t working on their lawns and gardens this weekend, they’re still likely to hire landscaping and gardening services to give them a hand.

Similar to local gardens and nurseries, local landscaping and gardening service businesses see a 41% increase in revenue thanks to a 77% increase in the number of transactions and a 23% increase in purchase sizes in the week leading up to Memorial Day.

Take Action

We’ve only scratched the surface of our small business analysis around Memorial Day. Below, we posted individual reports for industries most likely to be impacted by the holiday. Each report provides a more in-depth look at consumer spending trends.

Don’t see your industry?
Use The Small Business Almanac to see if industry trends are different in your state. We often see interesting outliers at the state level. For example, did you know that Mother’s Day is the single best day of the year for restaurants? It is in the top 10 days for 55% of the states, top 25 days for 34 states, but only the 298th for Utah restaurants. See how businesses like yours compare to your state’s trends.


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