Tracking the Moveable Feasts: Why Easter Can Be Complicated for Cross Border Retailers

2019-06-19T10:44:17-03:00April 18th, 2019|Cross Border Opportunity|

In Western countries, including the U.S., Mexico, Canada and the U.K., Christians are preparing their Easter celebrations for Sunday, April 21. This is a time when e-commerce retailers have been offering special promotions on last-minute items associated with this holiday: spring clothing, shoes, and of course, Easter-related gifts and candy. According to a recent NRF study, eight in ten adults in the U.S. market plan to celebrate Easter, spending an estimated $151 on goods such as cards, flowers, candy and clothing. The holiday is especially popular with younger consumers: as the NRF reports, those under the age of 35 plan to host an Easter egg hunt, exchange gifts, and shop online over the holiday weekend.

But for international retailers selling into different global markets, Easter can get much more complicated. It’s an example of one of many “floating holidays” scattered across the calendar that can trip up a cross border retailer.

How did Easter become so confusing? Like many religious holidays, the timing of Easter all depends on which calendar is used to observe it. Western Christianity follows the Gregorian calendar, which means Easter usually falls between March 22 and April 25.  The following day, Easter Monday, is a legal holiday in many countries. In much of Europe this is a bank holiday and workers have the day off.

Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar. Because of the thirteen-day difference between the calendars, Greek Orthodox Christians typically celebrate Easter Sunday later — this year, for example, it will be observed on April 28th. With an estimated 250 million Greek Orthodox Christians across the globe, this represents an opportunity for cross border retailers to demonstrate that they’re in sync with local cultural preferences with their products and offerings. Countries that officially observe Orthodox Easter include Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine.

While not religious, Mother’s Day is another example of a floating holiday. In the U.K., Mother’s Day was Sunday, March 31. But in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Japan, Philippines and South Africa, this day is the second Sunday in May (Sunday, May 12 this year).

Retailers selling into multiple global markets should be aware of the differences depending on location and plan their promotions accordingly. Failing to localize your e-commerce website to reflect the relevant dates of these fluctuating holidays will only serve as a reminder to consumers that you’re not native to the region. It will also be crucial to have an international shipping strategy in place to ensure that cross border goods arrive in time for these holiday gift exchanges.

To help international retailers stay on top of the many global holidays, including “moveable feasts” like Easter, the experts at Flow have assembled a holiday gift seller’s guide and a global holiday calendar for 2019 for easy reference.

Written by
Juliana Pereira is Vice President, Marketing at Flow Commerce. With 15 years experience in marketing and ecommerce, Juliana joined the Flow team after serving as Vice President of Marketing at Smartling. Previously Juliana worked across a variety of verticals and industries, from non-profits and publishing to tech and fashion, including management positions and key contributing roles at Ralph Lauren, The Met Store online (at The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Ziff Davis, and eMusic.