Retail Dogma

4-5-4 US Retail Calendar (2021)

The retail calendar is a special calendar used by retailers that divides the year into 4 & 5-weeks months in order to make it easier to plan and compare sales to previous year on a like for like basis.

Why Is This Calendar Used in Retail?

The retail calendar is intended to keep the same number of weekends (Saturdays & Sundays) in every month, because weekends play a big role in sales. This ensures that sales can be planned year over year on the same basis and makes the retail budgeting process easier and the sales reporting comparable.

When retailers budget for the coming year, they take the previous year as a base and factor in any growth/de-growth in those sales figures and then establish the new budget from there. If they maintain a calendar that has the same number of weekends there will be no need to shift the dates while budgeting, which makes the calculations more complicated.

When Does The 4-5-4 Retail Calendar Start in 2021?

The 4-5-4 retail calendar for 2021 starts on Sunday 31st of January 2021 and ends on Saturday 29th of January 2022. This year will have 52 weeks (364 days).

Since retail calendar days need to be multiple of 7, the calendar year is 364 days, and so every 5 to 6 years one extra week is added to the calendar and makes it 53 weeks. According to the NRF, The next year with 53 weeks will be 2023.

Should I use This Calendar?

The retail calendar is voluntary and not all retailers opt to use it.

In some regions there are many retail events that are not fixed over the year and so the shifting happens anyways, which makes adopting it useless.

Furthermore, many retailers find it easier to maintain a normal calendar, so that they can align all their reporting and accounting tasks with the regular yearly calendar.

Instead these retailers use a normal monthly calendar and plot their marketing events in every month and budget and report their sales on a monthly basis that starts and ends with the start and end of the month.

While reporting their sales, they usually make a commentary on whether or not any shifting in events has happened for the month/quarter to justify the variance on sales from last year.