Celebrating Labor Day by Thanking Your Labor!

While most of America celebrates a three day weekend that usually marks the end of summer months, retailers across the country hold another holiday sale. Due to the season and the pending (or just past) beginning of the school year a huge focus is put on outdoor activities such as boating, swimming, camping and yes… BBQing. Hardware and Home Improvement outlets coast to coast are holding Labor Day sales but how many people actually stop to consider what we celebrate and why? If your answer is, “Who cares as long as we can generate sales?” you might be missing out on an interesting approach to those sales.


Labor Day was created via the efforts of the Labor Movement in the late 1800s. It was declared a federal holiday in 1894 and was designated for celebration on the first Monday of September. The holiday is meant to recognize and express appreciation for the American laborer who, through their work efforts, contribute to the stability, financial wherewithal and strength of our nation.

Interestingly, there are a few common misperceptions and/or little known facts about Labor Day.

The first recorded Labor Day celebration was held in New York City on September 5, 1882. It was an effort of the local labor unions to gain recognition for their members’ contributions to the value of the American way and our life style. It was also an effort to gain better recognition for labor rights. On that day approximately 10,000 people marched through Manhattan. At that time, the average American worked 12 hours per day, six days each week. Keep in mind that was 1882 and the Adamson Act, which created our “standard” eight hour work day, wasn’t passed until September 1916 – 34 years later!

While we celebrate Labor Day in America, other countries celebrate International Workers’ Day, commonly referred to as May Day and celebrated on May 1st around the world. May Day is celebrated by many here in America, but is not a federal holiday and is usually lost in the clutter behind people celebrating Cinco de Mayo.

According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council (did you even know such a thing existed?) website, Labor Day is the official end of Hot Dog season. Ironically, the number of hot dogs grilled in American across the three-day span of any Labor Day weekend easily rivals the number grilled for Memorial Day weekend and our Independence Day celebrations. (Keep that in mind if you’re not pushing BBQ / grilling sales and promotions prior to Labor Day weekend.)

Labor Day weekend is the last three day holiday weekend in the year until November when many get a three day weekend for Veterans’ Day. Thanksgiving, on a Thursday and followed by Black Friday is usually a four-day commercial sales event marking the launch of the Christmas or “holiday” season and all of the seemingly-never-ending sales that go along with it.

It is perhaps the richest of ironies that while Labor Day is supposed to give laborers a break and express appreciation to them for all they contribute, this weekend usually marks some of the longest work days for laborers in the retail industry. Do you do anything to thank your employees – the laborers in your outlet(s)? Is there anything you can do to thank them AND increase your sales? Maybe.

Most outlets offer an employee discount all year long. This discount, usually running between 10-20% comes nowhere near preventing profit margin. On Labor Day weekend, as an expression of thanks to your employees, consider increasing that discount by 50-100%. In doing so, and announcing it a full month before Labor Day weekend sales start, you can have your employees planning their purchases in advance. Is there anything else you can do to motivate your employees to help draw in more business? Yes. Extend the normal employee discount to all of their family members and even consider extending it to their friends or referrals. In doing so, you motivate your employees to start pushing that word of mouth advertising that is so invaluable to any retail outlet.

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