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The UPS Store Small Business Blog
  • 26 May 2023
  • Public Relations

The Ultimate Guide of Business Holidays to Best Accommodate Your Customers

Independence Day. Columbus Day. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The list of holidays in the U.S. is long, with dozens of days recognized at the federal level. And with dozens of days come dozens of choices that you have to make for your business, your employees and your customers.

In this article, you’ll find a detailed guide on what to consider when planning your business holiday schedule. Of course, we recognize that each business is distinct, with different needs and priorities, but this guide can be taken as a general rule of thumb that most small businesses can follow.

Importance of Defining Yearly Business Holidays

Business Holidays

With a litany of business, federal, state, religious and secular holidays, it can be difficult to determine which days your small business should observe. However, establishing a holiday schedule is essential for your business so that employees and customers know what to expect when your business is open vs. closed.

Lets your customers know when you’ll be around

One of the key reasons you should establish a holiday closure schedule is to inform your customers of when you are available. To keep your customers informed of your holiday schedule, consider the following communication methods:

  • Send an email to your customer base notifying them of upcoming business closures. If you have an online store that will still be operable while you or your employees are enjoying time off, include a note that customers can still shop. Additionally, an email allows you to inform customers about any impact to shipping that they might experience should they order on or around a holiday or holiday period.
  • Create a website banner that can be temporarily added to your site. Similar to an email, this banner can communicate your hours of operation. A website banner is also a great method to inform customers about holiday sales or specials that they can access during this time period.
  • Post to social media ahead of the upcoming holiday and on the day itself. Ahead of the holiday, you can broadcast your small business’ availability, while on the day of the holiday, you can celebrate with a subtle reminder that your business is closed in observation, but will re-open shortly.
  • Put a sign on your storefront to ensure that any customers visiting your in-person location understand why you’re closed and for how long.

Keeps business organized

Establishing a set holiday schedule doesn’t only benefit your customers, it can help keep you organized and on track. By creating a set schedule, you can plan for the upcoming closures, ensuring that all orders are distributed and deadlines are met or adjusted prior to the holiday period. Try to answer all existing emails and finalize any other business items or housekeeping before your break, allowing you and your employees to fully enjoy the time off.

Allows employees (and you) to plan time away

Planning a vacation takes time. And while it’d be great to snap your fingers and be there, that’s simply not the case. But by establishing a defined holiday schedule at the beginning of the year, you and your employees can preemptively plan time off, taking advantage of your fixed closures. In establishing a set holiday schedule, you are also letting your employees know you care about their well-being, ultimately creating a better work environment.

Defining a Federal Holiday

When establishing a holiday schedule, it can be helpful to understand what constitutes a federal holiday and what does not.

Federal holidays can be defined as holidays that are established and recognized by federal law. In the U.S., the government recognizes 11 federal holidays:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Third Monday in January)
  • Washington’s Birthday / Presidents Day (Third Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
  • Juneteenth National Independence Day (June 19)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (First Monday in September)
  • Columbus Day (Second Monday in October)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

On these 11 days, banks and government offices are closed. And if a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the holiday will typically be observed the preceding Friday or the following Monday.

It is important to note that, in addition to closures, these dates are recognized as paid holidays for bank and federal employees. In addition to these federal holidays, several state governments also recognize state holidays. Depending on where you live, your state government might have additional closure dates. For example, Wisconsin recognizes Casimir Pulaski Day on March fourth.

Do all businesses have to close on federal holidays?

If banks and government offices are closed, does this mean your business must close, too? The short answer is, no. There are no dates in which private sector businesses are mandated to close. However, many businesses, both small and large, recognize several of the federal holidays listed above.

What’s the difference between federal and religious holidays?

With Christmas Day recognized as a federal holiday, it might have you wondering, what’s the difference between federal and religious holidays? Aside from Christmas Day, federal and religious holidays do not overlap. For example, some small businesses may recognize Christmas Eve as a holiday; however, the federal government does not afford Christmas Eve the same holiday status.

As a melting pot, there are many different cultures and many different religions throughout the country. And with different religions come different religious holidays and various celebrations. If your business recognizes certain holidays, like Christmas Day, by closing, consider offering a flexible work schedule or the opportunity for employees of different religions to take time off in order to celebrate the holidays that matter to them.

Most Common Holidays American Businesses Recognize Yearly

While businesses are not required to close on federal holidays, a majority of businesses recognize and honor several holidays. The most common holidays, in which a majority of U.S. businesses close, are:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

In addition to closing on these days, a majority of small business owners also offer these days as paid holidays. While you are not legally required to pay employees for time off, in today’s competitive talent landscape this can be a significant employee benefit.

When building or implementing a holiday or time-off process, make sure to consider offering paid holidays for your employees.

Other Times to Take Paid Time Off 

Another option to consider when creating a holiday or closure schedule is establishing a paid-time-off (PTO) policy for your business. To help ensure adherence to this policy, consider creating an employee handbook where your PTO policy can be documented.

Paid time off is typically leveraged for vacation time, but could also be utilized for sick days. However, many small business owners create a separate sick leave or sick policy that affords employees a certain number of sick days per year before they must dip into PTO.

As for PTO policies, some businesses choose to offer unlimited PTO. This approach can allow your employees to take paid time off when they need it most or when it is most convenient on their schedule. This can be seen as a very competitive employee benefit.

If unlimited PTO isn’t right for your small business, another typical approach to paid time off is offering your employees two weeks of PTO. This allows your employees to leverage paid time off when they so choose, while affording you greater control over scheduling.

Another way to keep employees happy while controlling your holiday schedule is to consider implementing a monthly recess on months that do not already include a paid holiday. In offering one standard paid day off per month, you allow your employees and yourself time to rest, which can reduce the overall amount of PTO you see your employees leveraging throughout the year.

In addition to these PTO approaches, and the most common paid holidays listed earlier, several businesses choose to offer a floating holiday as a paid time off option. Floating holidays allow employees to choose a day for paid time off. Common holidays or celebrations that are leveraged for floating holidays include:

  • Christmas Eve
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Election Day
  • Indigenous Peoples Day
  • Employee’s Birthday

And, if all this talk of vacation has you thinking about using your PTO to take a trip overseas, don’t forget to stop by The UPS Store to get your passport photos taken!

At the end of the day, your business is exactly that—yours. As a small business owner, it’s entirely up to you to decide what holidays and what kind of paid time off policy works for you, your employees and your business. 

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