How Long Is a Business Day?

Article Summary:

A business day refers to any normal day that a business operates as usual. Generally, business days refer to Monday through Friday and exclude any holidays that the company observes. What constitutes business hours will vary between companies and industries. A safe assumption is that normal business hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

What exactly counts as a business day will vary from business to business since there isn’t really a technical definition as to what constitutes a “business day.” Though this term typically refers to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, some businesses may adhere to the hours of a specific time zone.

While many businesses are global operations available 24 hours a day, others will base the majority of their operations around the time zone they are based in. Notably, the financial securities industry in the United States operates around the hours of the New York Stock Exchange, which means many financial services are only available from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Although Monday to Friday is generally considered the business week, that is not always the case either. For example, Iceland made recent headlines by test piloting a four-day workweek. The experiment was generally considered a success and has caused several major companies to reconsider how long a business week needs to be. Keep reading to learn more about what a traditional business day is, what it means for financial institutions, and how to keep track of the difference.

Why a business day matters

When companies give you a time frame you can expect from them, they will provide the estimate in an approximate number of business days. While business days generally mean Monday to Friday, some businesses operate over weekends.

Most importantly, a business day may determine when you can order services or expect a delivery to arrive.

How time affects a business day

Many companies consider normal business hours to be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. However, this range may differ depending on the industry, and official hours can vary from company to company.

For instance, many retail establishments are open later than 5 p.m. and will consider all hours the store is open as part of a normal business day. But if you need to deal with the company’s corporate or an offsite customer service representative, you’ll likely need to adjust your schedule to accommodate a different availability from the store’s typical retail hours.

How do official holidays affect the business week?

National holidays and other holidays recognized by a company generally won’t be counted as business days. Even when national holidays fall on the weekend, companies and institutions will often choose to observe the holiday on the Friday before or the Monday after the actual day. For example, in 2020, July 4 fell on a Saturday, but the NYSE and the NASDAQ both remained closed on Friday, July 3, 2020, in observance of the holiday.

Generally, when a major observed holiday falls on a Friday, the following Monday will usually be the next business day unless it happens to be the extra rare 4-day weekend.

Since major holidays can vary from country to country this can make things especially problematic when dealing with companies internationally. For example, July 4 is Independence Day in the United States, a federally recognized holiday. But in France, July 4 is a normal business day, whereas July 14 is the holiday Bastille Day (often considered the French equivalent of July 4). Neither country recognizes the other’s national holiday in any meaningful way, so remember that what might be regarded as a business day in one country does not mean it will be one everywhere.

Pro Tip

While many employers choose to observe federal holidays, no law says they have to. National holidays are legally protected for federal employees but are not guaranteed to private sector employees.

Financial industry business days

While most businesses operate based on their local time zone, the financial industry is a bit unique. Regardless of what state the financial institution is located in, many major services are only available during the open hours of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

The NYSE time zone

Most of the financial industry in the United States and much of the world operates around the New York Stock Exchange, so it makes sense that these services would all line up with the NYSE’s time zone. Because of this, many services will only be available during the NYSE’s general trading hours, which are 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m EST.

As most amateur traders quickly learn, all major trading action happens according to Eastern Standard Time (UTC -5:00 / -4:00) since that is the time zone New York falls in. This means that the vast majority of traders in California must submit all of their orders before 1:00 p.m. local time if they want their trades to begin processing that day.

Settlement periods in the securities industry

When purchasing securities such as stock or bonds, there are settlement time periods that are measured in business days. A settlement period is the time it takes for the securities to be officially handed over to the buyer and for the cash to be transferred to the seller. Technically, the trade is not officially complete until the settlement period is reached.

Over the years, the exact length of the settlement period has been adjusted. As of 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission decided that the required settlement period is the day of the transaction plus two business days. So, when an investor places an order on a Monday, the trade will usually settle on Wednesday. However, this only assumes the timeframe wasn’t affected by any recognized holidays and that there weren’t any errors that caused the settlement to fail.

Pro Tip

Many online brokers will not allow customers to fully withdraw their funds until after their trades have settled. So if an investor plans to sell their securities and withdraw the cash, they will need to account for the required settlement period in their financial plans. To get a better idea of these rules in the investing industry, try speaking with one of the brokerages below.

Business days as a delivery timeframe

Even with how common online shopping has become, our shipping estimates are just that: estimates. A few major factors need to be considered when using business days in shipping estimates. The two main ones are the business’ definition of a business day and the shipping service they use.

Many businesses will have a specific cutoff time regarding order processing. If a company advertises that it will ship the next business day, that will generally only apply to orders received before the cutoff time. If the business receives an order after this time, they will generally consider it “received” on the following business day.

Major retailers vs. small businesses

When online shopping, not all shipping estimates are created equal. Major corporate retailers with countless employees, such as Amazon, will often begin processing orders every day of the week, including Sunday.

The same can’t be said for small businesses. Depending on how small the company is, business owners may need a day or two off from maintaining a brick-and-mortar store. This means any orders placed on days when the business is closed (like during a recognized holiday) won’t be reviewed until the next business day.

This assumption changes again when discussing online retailers through sites such as eBay, Etsy, and others. Though some retailers may work through weekends and holidays, others may stick to a strict schedule that may affect their shipping estimates.

Shipping services

All major shipping companies consider normal business days to be Monday through Friday. USPS does include Saturday for priority mail deliveries. UPS and FedEx will deliver on Saturdays for an extra fee, but this can get quite expensive as the surcharges start at around $16.

USPS is the only courier to regularly deliver on Sundays, but only mail sent via Priority Mail Express will qualify. The Express option also costs roughly triple that of the normal Priority Mail service. But, if you absolutely need the package to arrive on a Sunday, it’s the only widely available option.

Pro Tip

Saturdays and Sundays are often not considered business days in western countries. So if you’re scheduling a special delivery that has to arrive before the start of business on Monday, you’ll want to try and get it delivered before the end of business on Friday.

FAQs

How long is ten business days?

Ten business days is essentially two weeks minus the weekends. When a company provides a 10-business day estimate, you should not include any major holidays or weekends in your time frame estimates. If there are multiple recognized holidays over the course of those 10 business days, the actual time frame may be closer to three full weeks.

How long is the next business day?

The “next” business day simply refers to the next time a business would normally be open. Depending on what the current day is, this could mean the literal next day or several days.

For instance, if you cash a check on a Wednesday and receive a notice saying the check will be cashed on the next business day, you can expect funds in your account on Thursday. However, if you cash your check on Friday, you may not see those funds until Monday.

Key Takeaways

  • Business days are the days that a company performs or provides its regular services.
  • Business days often colloquially mean 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, and excludes major or national holidays. However, this standard can vary depending on the company and industry.
  • Recognized holidays will also often vary from country to country. While many companies will recognize federal holidays, the specific holidays a company actually recognizes are at the discretion of the company.
  • Most financial institutions operate according to the New York Stock Exchange’s business hours, which are in Eastern Standard Time.
  • You can usually find specific information regarding an individual company’s business hours through their usual communication channels.
View Article Sources
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  2. SEC Adopts T+2 Settlement Cycle for Securities Transactions — U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  3. How Long Does It Take For A Check To Clear — SuperMoney
  4. How to Qualify for SBA Loans: 4 Business Loans to Consider — SuperMoney
  5. Easy Business Loans and Your Credit Score — SuperMoney
  6. Best Inventory Loans for Small Businesses in 2022 — SuperMoney
  7. How to Qualify for Small Business Loans — SuperMoney
  8. How to Build Your Business Credit — SuperMoney
  9. How to Finance a Business — SuperMoney
  10. Complete Guide to Small Business Loans — SuperMoney