Green Monday? Gift Card Weekend? Enough With the ‘Special’ Holiday Shopping Events Already!

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John Gress / Reuters

Apparently, the regular old bustling holiday shopping season isn’t enough for retailers constantly looking for new ways to stir up business and increase sales numbers. Nowadays, to rouse consumers into ceaseless shopping sprees, it seems like every other day from the end of November through December is branded as a sales “event” of one kind or another.

Here’s a list of current events—a dozen, and surely more to come in the future:

Early Black Friday: Plenty of retailers host promotions dubbed Before, Pre, or Early Black Friday Sales, complete with “door busters” for early morning shoppers. This year, Amazon launched its Black Friday sales 24 days before Black Friday.

Thanksgiving: Sure, the last Thursday in November remains a day to give thanks, enjoy turkey and trimmings with friends and family, and watch the Detroit Lions lose. But increasingly, Thanksgiving is also a day to shop: Online purchases increased 18% on Turkey Day this year, totaling $479 million, and diehard shoppers left their couches on Thanksgiving evening as more and more retailers opened their doors at midnight, or even a few hours before. In certain circles, the last Thursday in November may become more known as “Black Friday Eve” than as Thanksgiving.

(MORE: Black Friday: $52 Billion for Stores, Big Credit Card Bills for Us)

Black Friday: The original crazy day of holiday shopping lived up to its billing this year, with fanatical shoppers camping out as many as 12 days in advance to be first in line to buy discounted TVs, and an overall 7% increase in retail sales over last year.

Small Business Saturday: Whereas consumers tend to flock to Best Buy, Walmart, and other national chains on Black Friday, shoppers are encouraged—via discounts and other promotions—to hit mom-and-pop businesses on Main Street the day after, which was officially dubbed Small Business Saturday by American Express.

Cyber Monday: The Monday after Thanksgiving 2011 was the biggest day for online sales ever: $1.25 billion, up 22% from Cyber Monday of 2010. What’s especially amazing is that the term “Cyber Monday” has only been around since 2005.

(MORE: Now We’re Supposed to Have Two Christmas Trees?)

Cyber Week: If one day of online sales is good, then an entire week of special web promotions must be better. That’s the thinking behind “Cyber Week,” which follows Cyber Monday—and which accounted for a record $6 billion in e-sales this year.

Green Monday: Shortly after the phrase “Cyber Monday” went into circulation, eBay coined “Green Monday,” which falls on the second Monday of December—and which has often been the site’s busiest sales day. By the time the numbers are in, it’s expected that Green Monday of 2011 (December 12) will have topped $1 billion in online sales (for all retailers, not just eBay). In related news, the second Monday of December was also expected to be the busiest day of the year for shippers FedEx and UPS.

National Regifting Day: A semi-joke, National Regifting Day falls on the third Thursday in December—which, by no coincidence whatsoever, is also when many companies host office party gift exchanges.

(MORE: Just How Important Is Free Shipping to Online Shoppers?)

Free Shipping Day: Introduced in 2008 by an entrepreneur with little more than a website and an idea, Free Shipping Day (Friday, December 16 in 2011) now boasts more than 2,000 retail participants, each of which offers some form of free shipping for orders placed that day. This year, Free Shipping Day even spread to Canada. While Free Shipping Day has expanded rapidly, it’s arguably less noteworthy for shoppers, who increasingly have come to assume that online orders will come with free shipping no matter what day it is.

Super Saturday: The Saturday before Christmas is usually “Super” for retailers—it’s usually a huge day for sales, when desperate shoppers gather all their last-minute gifts. Prices tend to be high on Super Saturday, and tempting impulse buys line every aisle within eyesight, though there also tend to be significant markdowns on items that haven’t sold well during the holiday season.

Christmas Eve Eve: Another monster day for sales at brick-and-mortar stores, the night before Christmas Eve attracts crowds of last-minute shoppers who have plans on Christmas Eve itself—leaving Christmas Eve Eve as the final opportunity to browse for gifts.

(MORE: Is the Popularity of Gift Cards on the Decline?)

Gift Card Weekend: Brand new for this holiday season, Gift Card Weekend occurs January 6 to 8 in 2012. What happens on Gift Card Weekend? It’s supposedly the time when you should use all the gift cards you received over the holidays. Sure, gift cards can be used at any time, but over this “special” weekend, some retailers are supposed to be offering extra value and discounts for shoppers using gift cards. Thus far, few details are available regarding what these special deals actually entail.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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