Happy President’s Day! Are you going shopping today — looking for a new car or a great deal on a mattress? Why does it seem like there are so many sales on President’s Day? Here’s some background:

Established in 1885, the holiday was originally created to honor George Washington and held on his birthday, Feb. 22. It became known as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents after it was moved to the third Monday of every February, in order to create a three-day weekend for workers. Today, that extended weekend comes in handy as retailers take the opportunity to create a shopping bonanza second only to Black Friday.

According to a survey by retail site Shop It To Me, “February is the month of the year with the best sales – a distinction driven by Presidents’ Day deals.”  Donovan Ramsey noted on the personal finance website Farnoosh:

The survey found that average online sales reached 47% during February 2012, significantly higher than during the rest of the year. “Retailers are eager to clear out winter merchandise, so they can start selling spring items,” said Shop It To Me CEO Charlie Graham. “That’s why there are so many clearance events during February and why Presidents’ Day ushers in a host of great sales.”