The Retailers Calendar

The Julian calendar we use to pass the time every day, every week, every month and every year is the one most commonly used by businesses. Its general availability and familiarity make it a natural selection.

However, the Julian calendar was certainly not devised with the peculiar needs of the apparel and sporting goods retailer in mind. The seasonal, holiday and special event nature of retailing makes the Julian calendar practically useless for accounting periods.

An accounting calendar that ingeniously relates to the business cycles of retailing is invaluable. Our business cycles are those periods of time between the start and end of a sales season. In general, our business cycles end in July and January.

An accounting period is nothing more than an artificial division of a business year, designed to give management information about a unit of time which is manageable. The period should be long enough so that an infrequent or unusual event will not distort the results. Yet it should not be so short that so much information is produced that it can not be properly absorbed and analyzed easily. If you can't get information you need to analyze your business during the Spring season until August, what good is it? On the other hand, it doesn't make sense to produce a daily report that takes all day to analyze and act upon. Therefore, the commonly agreed upon accounting period is a month.

If each accounting period for one business year can be made to correspond to the same period next year, and the next, this provides an invaluable forecast tool for management. For instance, the month of December should have the same number of selling days each year, and it should have the same number of Mondays, Saturdays and Wednesdays. By shifting a few days here and there from one month to another, the result is a neat dovetailing of accounting months that stay the same from year to year. Now you have an accounting calendar that allows you to compare apples to apples, instead of oranges to apples; the 4-5-4 Accounting Calendar. The 1989 4-5-4 Accounting Calendar is shown.

The 4-5-4 Accounting Calendar is just what it says. Each quarter contains a 4-week month, a 5-week month and a 4-week month. Each month begins on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday. Each month has the same number of selling days this year as it did last year and as it will next year. For example, March has 5 perfect weeks every year, 5 Saturdays, 5 Mondays, etc. For holidays that are a set day of the week, such as Thanksgiving, there will always be the identical selling days before and after the holiday, year after year. This makes it much easier for the retailer to compare this year's sales to last year's sales.

The 4-5-4 Calendar is especially suited for use in preparing sales forecasts and operating budgets. Also, since each month ends on a Saturday you will enjoy the convenience of taking physical inventory counts at week end and not having to either subtract or add sales which preceded or followed the physical count to arrive at a clean cut-off. The inventory counts should therefore be more accurate.

The 4-5-4 Accounting Calendar begins with the month of February, which is traditionally the beginning of the Spring merchandising season and which is the most common beginning of year for retailers.

Changing from the traditional Julian calendar to the 4-5-4 Accounting Calendar will make very few differences in the store's procedures. About the only difference is to realize that for the first year, sales comparisons can be made only at the end of each 13-week quarter. The 4-5-4 Accounting Calendar is also recognized by the IRS for income tax reporting purposes. It is referred to by the IRS as the 52-53 Week Year. To adopt the 52-53 Week Year it is necessary to file a statement with the tax return for the first tax year for which the election is made. Your local accountant can take care of this for you.

In spite of the advantages of using the 4-5-4 Accounting Calendar, I regularly find retailers who do not use it; either because they are not familiar with it or think it will be too difficult to change to a new calendar. I strongly advocate it's use by all retailers. Not only does the 4-5-4 calendar make it easier for the retailer to compare his performance to last year but it also makes it easier to make future plans based upon past history.

This article was written by Linda Carter, President of The Retail Management Advisors, a retail consulting firm whose mission is to help independent retailers survive and thrive. Linda can be reached at 1-877-206-1299 or Our web site is< /p>

You can reprint this article as long as the above information is included.

The Inferno of the Finance Director

Sometimes, I harbour a suspicion that Dante was a Financial Director. His famous work, "The... Read More

I Said Pareto Chart? Not Potato Chart!

Does this sound familiar? You were hired for the new management position. You were tasked... Read More

Uncovering the Secrets to Effective Performance Management

In many ways there are no secrets to implementing effective performance management. Performance Management is... Read More

Preparing For ISO 9001 2000 Registration

The steps need to be taken to prepare an organization for ISO 9001 2000 registration:Whilst... Read More

Employee Retention: Keeping the People Who Keep You in Business

The retention of highly skilled knowledge workers is one of the major challenges today for... Read More

Organisational Culture for Continuous Improvement

I have been working with leading Business Improvement guru, Tim Franklin, preparing the PR for... Read More

Interviewing Candidates: 3 Ways to Avoid Snap Judgments

Have you ever hired the wrong person? If so, perhaps you are an emotional interviewer?An... Read More

Power of Pinpointing Accountability

I have always said that if I were to write a book on effective management... Read More

Finding the Right Way to Motivate Your Employees

Fear, Incentives and GrowthZig Ziglar says that there are three main ways to motivate people... Read More

Necessary Tasks You May Want to Delegate

As a business owner, time is of the essence. Running a business is demanding. You... Read More

Don?t Get Down ? Manage Up!

"Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with... Read More

Budgets that Damage - The Downsides of Making the Numbers

In my organisational career, I had budgets from the age of 22 to 47. I... Read More

How To Prevent Your New Manager From Becoming A Statistic

According to a study by the Manchester Group, 4 out of 10 new managers fail... Read More

5 Ways of Increasing Business Profits

The economy may finally be turning around and showing signs of a rebound. Interest rates... Read More

The Survey Feedback Process for Organizational Development and Change

THE PURPOSE OF SURVEY FEEDBACK:In globally competitive environments, organizations are seeking information about obstacles to... Read More

The Devil We Know

"I'm in an abusive relationship," sighed Andrew. "My bookkeeper annoys the hell out of me... Read More

Bar Charts Brought to Life: Index of Interactive Information for HTML and PDF

Bar Charts and the Information ChallengeWhether one is an unknown entrepreneur or Donald Trump, an... Read More

Selecting a Business Broker or Intermediary to Help You Sell Your Business

As crazy as it seems, some people spend more time choosing a coffee machine than... Read More

Keep The Faith - Transform The Fear

FEAR! To what extent does fear rule your life? How is fear controlling or motivating... Read More

Top Ten Tips About People Management

To get the best results you have to be very good at Managing People...and it's... Read More

Rethinking the CEO-Chairman Split

Traditionally, in American businesses, the same person occupies the role of chairman of the board... Read More

An Original Perspective on Waging Conflict as a Way to Promote and Restore Self-dignity

Conflict is a fact of life for all of us, but too many painful consequences... Read More

How To Learn Great Management from Our Kids

Learning comes from many places. And one of the most wondrous opportunities is right in... Read More

Before You Head Off, Make Sure You Know Where You Are Going - The Importance of Clear Objectives.

The title of this article sounds like simple advice, but so often we undertake activities... Read More

Innovation Management ? some ideas are better than others

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined... Read More

Spinning Gold from Straw: Low-Cost Employee Retention and Motivation Tools in a Changing Economy

New York, NY, February 25, 2005 ? Employee retention and motivation?why should employers care? A... Read More

Avoid Outsourcing Pitfalls in the Injection Molds and Stamping Dies Markets

When looking to outsource overseas for Plastic Injection Molds or Stamping Dies there are many... Read More

Delegation for Business Leaders - How Letting Go Works

A leader's role is to focus on those areas of operation where he or she... Read More

The New Economy

This technological revolution has organization, efficiency and productivity requirements well above what was needed in... Read More

A Sense of Humor in the Workplace ... Is it Me? Or, was that not funny?

When I was first initiated into Corporate America, I had a sense of humor that... Read More

Building Trust in Your Business Relationships - 10 Steps

There are some simple things you can do with your people to ensure that they... Read More

Examining the Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction and Customer Satisfaction

Researchers have undertaken numerous studies to look at the connection between customer and employee satisfaction.... Read More

The 10 Realities of Change

I've seen several articles that begin with lines like "the only constant today is change."... Read More

Are Your Meetings Smart?

Soon after I finished a brief seminar on how to accomplish more in less time... Read More

Performance Management Made Easy

Performance Management is a process that both employer and employee often fear!Why is this so!There... Read More

Tales From the Corporate Frontlines: Diversity in the Workplace: Ethnic Considerations

This article relates to the Diversity in the Workplace Competency, commonly evaluated in employee satisfaction... Read More

Improve Operations by Restructuring

Transitioning from Vertical Hierarchies to Decentralized / Flatter OrganizationsThe need to restructure for traditional, bureaucratic... Read More

Take This Into Consideration Before You Write Your Mission Statement

What principles should a company keep in mind when developing a mission statement? Appropriate criteria... Read More

Hire Winners: Ask the Right Questions

How do you as a manager, supervisor or team leader hire winners? One very successful... Read More

Dividing The Loot

It is when the going gets better, that the going gets tough. This enigmatic sentence... Read More

Four Ways To Make the Case For Outsourcing

How do you convert outsourcing leads into clients? You may need to make the case... Read More

Change and Performance - Training May Not Be The Answer

Introducing new products or services, bringing new people on board, developing a new process or... Read More

The Business Shaman: Exploring the Mystery of Success!

Note: This article was written for a internet business site. It is a promo for... Read More

The Dripping Faucet in Every Organization

Each day millions of workers spend 8 hours or more at their respective jobs with... Read More

Quality Standards with ISO 9001

Standardizing Quality SystemsThe ISO, or International Organization for Standardization, was established in 1947 to develop... Read More

ISO 9001 Okay Now You Have It How Do You Market It?

Marketing ISO 9001 2000.Lately we've been seeing a lot of press releases from wineries and... Read More

Communication Mix-Up

My friend Delia is the owner of a small private school. This spring her school... Read More

Is Your Business A Dysfunctional Family?

The other day I brought my mother into an appliance store to purchase a television.... Read More

Managing Creativity - An Oxymoron! Not

Interrogated on a beach in Barbados by friends insistent that there was little validity to... Read More

5 Surefire Ways to Bring Your Business Objectives Full Circle with Technology

All small to mid-sized company owners want to know where their dollar is being spent... Read More