Since studying fashion merchandising I've learned so much about the business from the college side, but what do you expect, right? One of the things that solved such a huge mystery to me was how it seemed that some retailers would begin selling merchandise so early. Like when they'd be selling Halloween merchandise, it would seem like they practically would skip Thanksgiving and were already selling Christmas merchandise. Well, if you have a small business and don't know about the 4-5-4 calendar it might just be the answer to some of your questions.
So what IS a 4-5-4 calendar?
If you divide the retail calendar into 52 weeks of seven days each, or 364 days, it leaves an extra day each year to be accounted for. As a result, every five to six years a week is added to the fiscal calendar.
Why was the 4-5-4 calendar created?
According to NRF.com, prior to and during the 1930’s, retailers used a straight calendar to report monthly sales. This calendar became problematic as Saturdays and Sundays became an increasingly large percentage of sales, since the number of weekends in a month varied year to year. A calendar that maintained the same number of weekends in comparable months was desired and the 4-5-4 Calendar was developed.
What's the purpose of the 4-5-4 calendar?
With the 4-5-4 Calendar in effect it serves as a guide for the retail industry and ensures sales comparability between years by dividing the year, or each quarter, into months based on a 4 weeks – 5 weeks – 4 weeks format. The layout of the calendar lines up holidays and makes sure there are the same amount of Saturdays and Sundays in comparable months. Like days are compared to like days for sales reporting purposes.
That's great and all, but how do you USE the 4-5-4 calendar?
Let's take a look at the 2016-2018 4-5-4 calendar. Let's use Valentine's Day since it's the next holiday coming up. For 2016 and 2017, Valentine's Day falls in Week 3, but in 2018 it falls in Week 2. That means retailers have three options here. They can either begin distribution and promotion of Valentine's Day merchandise a week or two earlier (Week 51/52), they can wait that week to begin distribution and aggressively promote the merchandise in the smaller time period, or do a combination of both.
So why should bloggers use the 4-5-4 calendar?
For practically the same reasons. Comparing analytics, editorial calendar purposes, and if you sell items through a shop, when you can start sales and such. If you know you only have a week and a half between the new year and Valentine's Day, you might start working on items for posts around the last week of the year to have them ready for the week of Valentine's Day.
Photo Credit: Studio Curve