Shoppers across the UK will descend on out of town stores today in a bid to get the bargains. That’s because today is a public holiday – called a “bank holiday” in the UK. However, even though it’s officially a “day off” many of the stores will be open and most will be having some kind of promotion.

It’s something of a tradition in the UK to have a “bank holiday sale”, but retailers also try other tactics like prize draws, only available to shoppers on a bank holiday, or the selling of products only available on these holidays. In other words, retailers in the UK use bank holidays as some kind of excuse to drive people towards their shops.

So what can online businesses learn from the success of the “bank holiday retailer”? What it means is that we can drive people to our web sites with special offers and sales linked to specific events. One online business I know has an “owner’s birthday sale”. Every year, on the owner’s birthday, a sale is announced to celebrate. The result is an extra $10,000 of sales each year.

Just like bricks and mortars retailers in the UK, the online sale only needs some kind of weak excuse. A “bank holiday” is nothing special that signifies the need for a sale; there is no retail reason, such as the need to shift stock. The “event” is just an excuse – and it works.

Online businesses do not seem to follow the offline world’s example enough. You will not find many “special event” sales. Yet these could trigger additional income for anyone running an online business.

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