Getting Ahead of the 53rd Week

SOURCE: by Nick Baldwin
Feb 06, 2024

Retail industry professionals likely know that end-of-year reporting is vital for planning business. Even then, not everyone involved in the planning process realizes that most 2023 calendars ended with an unusual quirk: a 53rd fiscal week.

Most retail fiscal calendars try to divide the year into seven-day weeks. This is helpful for reporting when you want to be sure you’re always comparing Week 1 of one year to Week 1 of the last, but it also leaves an extra day that needs to be accounted for. You can think of it like a Leap Year. Just like every four years, we sum up our extra hours into a whole day in February, on fiscal calendars, we must add our extra days into a whole week. The only difference is the lack of consistency. While we have a Leap Year every four years, we have a 53rd week every five or six.

The problem with this comes when trying to assign that extra week to reports or plans. That extra week needs to fit in somewhere, and any aggregate time frame (your months, seasons, or the whole year) is going to include a bit more than usual. You also need to consider how you’ll look back on 2022 information during the 53rd week. If you compare the last week of this year to the last week of last year without accounting for that extra week, your week numbers are now out of sync.

The trick is to figure out your process and how your system is going to fit with your partners. With SKYPAD, this can generally be managed in one of two ways: restating or not restating. Most retailers fall into one of these categories, even where small variations apply.

Non-restated calendars are the easiest of the two to understand. On these calendars, the 53rd week is typically added to the end of the year. When comparing this week’s reports to the same week the previous year, non-restated calendars repeat Week 52 twice. In other words, Week 52 and Week 53 of 2023 both look back on Week 52 of 2022. Next year both Weeks 52 and 53 are rolled into one when comparing against week 52 2024.

Alternatively, you can avoid these aggregated last-year comparisons by restating your calendar. In this method, the 53rd week is still added to the end of the year but shifts the whole year forward by one week, when compared to last year’s numbers. If your calendar begins in February, you’d compare 2/10/2024 against 2/11/2023 on a restated calendar, whereas 2023 begins on 2/4/2023 on the non-restated.

Once you’ve figured out how you’re going to manage your in-house 53rd week, it’s worth checking with any partners that you share reports with. Fiscal calendars can start any time of year, meaning you may see the extra week pop up at any point. If you’re adding an extra week to January’s monthly goal, it’s important to know that your buyers are including this week in their monthly sales reports.

While this may sound complicated, like anything else in business, the most important thing is planning and communicating. If you have a plan in place and communicate this with anyone who’s looking at your reports, it’s easy to manage the 53rd week.