An Explanation The 4-5-4 Retail Calendar

In my last blog, I mentioned a “4-5-4” retail calendar. Since then, I’ve heard from a number of you asking what a “4-5-4” retail calendar is. So here’s a little background.
The 4-5-4 calendar came into use by large department stores during the 1930s as Saturday and Sunday sales started to become bigger than weekly sales.
The problem these retailers were having with the regular calendar was that the number of Saturdays and Sundays in a month varied from year to year. For example, May 2010 had 5 Saturdays and May 2011 only had 4. If you were comparing one year to the next when planning sales, this affected accuracy.
To solve the problem, the 4-5-4 retail planning calendar was developed.
The way it works: Each quarter is made up of three months.
  • The first month has four Sunday through Saturday weeks.
  • The second month has five Sunday through Saturday weeks.
  •  The third month has four Sunday through Saturday weeks.
This 4-5-4 retail calendar evens out the number of Saturdays and Sundays in every month and it also lines up most holidays to be on the same week each year. There are some exceptions such as Easter, whose date can vary quite a bit from year to year.
There was one problem with this calendar. It gave you 53 Sunday through Saturday weeks – or 364 days. Periodically, there will be a 53 week year to pick up the missing day. 2012 is one of those 53 week years.
So how important is it to use the 4-5-4 calendar in your sales planning? It really depends on your sales volume and the difference between your weekend and your weekday sales. The 4-5-4 calendar will always give you the most accurate forecasting.
4-5-4 calendars are available every year on the National Retail Federation WEB site. You can use this link for a calendar or for a FAQ sheet.
See whether or not this tool, used with a high-end retail software product like CounterPoint SQL, doesn’t put you ahead of your competitors.
Talk to you soon. ~ Norma


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