Watch out for Presidents’ Day: it’s the US holiday only 30% of British businesses plan for

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UK companies doing business in the US should be prepared for the impact of a holiday most Brits have never heard of, warns the UK-US delivery specialist ParcelHero. Research by ParcelHero reveals 70% of UK firms doing business with the US don’t plan for this major American national holiday, which occurs every third Monday in February and has 15 different official names, depending on which state you are in.

Presidents’ Day (as it’s most widely known) sees many US businesses closed, postal deliveries suspended for the day, Post Offices and Government-run organisations shuttered and the New York Stock Exchange and banks shut.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says:  ‘While Americans’ trust in their Government has tumbled to a near-70 year low, Presidents’ Day is still a cause for celebration. Banks, Government offices and many businesses will close for the day. The United States Postal Service (USPS) won’t deliver regular mail or packages on Monday, 19 February, and all US Post Offices will be closed.

‘For UK-US businesses operating to tight timetables or running Just-in-time production schedules, Presidents’ Day can be an unwelcome surprise – even though it happens every year. We surveyed a selection of UK SMEs who trade with the US and found only 30% plan for the impact of this major US holiday. This is perhaps because its date changes every year or, in the case of Delaware and a number of other states, it’s not recognised as a legal state holiday at all.

‘What exactly shuts on this holiday? Federal (national) and state (local) government services close, together with federal and state courts. Schools are generally closed. Until the late 1980s, most corporate businesses also shut but many now remain open, especially major retail store chains offering special sales. Amazon.com is worth looking at for special deals.

‘While most Brits are familiar with major US holidays such as Independence Day and Thanksgiving, there isn’t the same awareness surrounding Presidents’ Day on our side of the Pond. That’s hardly surprising, given that the various states use 15 different names for the event, if you include the wandering or disappearing apostrophe. These include Washington’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day, President’s Day, Presidents Day, and Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday. In Arkansas, George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Bates Day celebrates the achievements of the first President and a civil rights activist on the same day.

‘Presidents’ Day evolved to celebrate either George Washington’s birthday (22 February) or Lincoln’s birthday (12 February), depending on where in the USA you lived. Many states used to hold the holiday on Washington’s birthday itself. In 1968, it was decided to mark the day on the third Monday in February. Just to confuse things further, Presidents’ Day is still officially called Washington’s Birthday by the US Government, as its Committee couldn’t agree over the name change.

‘US workers have fewer holidays than their European counterparts. However, there are a few core dates almost everyone gets off:

  1. New Year’s Day (1 January)
  2. Memorial Day (last Monday in May, honouring people who have died in service)
  3. Independence Day (4 July)
  4. Labor Day (first Monday in September, honouring US workers)
  5. Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November)
  6. Christmas Day (25 December)

‘The impact of other holidays, such as Presidents’ Day, is more varied. For anyone needing access to the US Postal Service, here’s a full list of 2024 dates the USPS don’t deliver letters and parcels and Post Offices are closed:

  • New Year’s Day: Monday, 1 January
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Monday, 15 January
  • Presidents’ Day: Monday, 19 February
  • Memorial Day: Monday, 27 May
  • Juneteenth: Wednesday, 19 June (honouring the emancipation of slaves)
  • Independence Day: Thursday, 4 July
  • Labor Day: Monday, 2 September
  • Columbus Day: Monday, 14 October (also known as Indigenous Peoples Day)
  • Veterans Day: Monday, 11 November (honouring all military veterans)
  • Thanksgiving: Thursday, 28 November
  • Christmas Day: Wednesday, 25 December

‘While US postal services may not be available on these days, courier services such as UPS and FedEx will be operating on many, including Presidents’ Day. ParcelHero services to and from the USA will also be available for collection and delivery on 19 February.

‘Next year, Presidents’ Day falls on 17 February, 2025. We do advise everyone sending items to the US to regularly check ParcelHero’s USA page, which gives full details on any US courier holidays, changes in prices, Customs advice, and details about sending food etc.

‘The US is ParcelHero’s biggest individual overseas market. For expert advice on UK-US shipping, including useful frequently asked questions (FAQs), help for exporters and prohibited items details, see: https://www.parcelhero.com/en-gb/international-courier-services/usa-parcel-delivery