Walmart Fiscal Calendar – How to use it

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As part of our series on calendars in the retail industry, we are diving deeper into specific key retailer calendars. Last time, we talked about retailer calendars in general. How they were originally conceived and some of their common, interesting quirks. Now we are going to dig a bit deeper into one of the most interesting retailer-specific calendars and the largest physical retailer in the world by revenue – the Walmart fiscal calendar.

Understanding the Walmart calendar structure

Structurally, the Walmart calendar is similar to other fiscal calendars. It is divided into four fiscal quarters containing three fiscal months. The four-week month followed by a five-week month then another 4-week month. This creates a nice, round fiscal year of 52 weeks and 364 days.

The format of the Walmart week, the key time identifier in Walmart data, is also easy to understand and parse. It is composed of four numbers representing the fiscal year beginning followed by two numbers marking the fiscal week. So the first week of the fiscal year beginning 2020 would be 202001. And the 15th week of that year would be formatted as 202015. This format is helpful for analysts as it is easy to parse key information like the week and year out of with simple Excel formulas.

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How it differs from other retailers

There are some key differences between Walmart’s fiscal calendar and other retailer calendars. For example, while many retailer calendars are oriented based on the calendar month of February, Walmart specifically begins its year in the calendar week containing February 1st. As opposed to Target, who begins its calendar in the first full week of calendar February.

Another key difference is the weekday on which each Walmart week begins or ends. A Walmart week begins at midnight on Saturday and ends just before midnight on Friday, evenly distributing profitable weekends between weeks. Many retail analysts appreciate this distribution for rounding sales numbers week to week but may appreciate the distribution less when looking at comprehensive weekend performance, which requires daily data granularity across multiple Walmart weeks to analyze fully.

Year over year reporting

Our general retailer calendar post talked about how the standard retailer calendar will occasionally end up with a 53rd fiscal week due to each year containing only 364 days. This remains true for Walmart. Walmart buyers may have distinct year-over-year reporting considerations for each department, which is critical for the vendor to understand and align with ahead of time. 

However, in Walmart’s Retail Link data reporting system, the year-over-year comparison method is standard. When comparing a full 53-week year to the previous year, the prior year comparison week for week 53 will actually be week 1 of the same year. In the weeks below the 53rd, analysts compare the current year week to the prior year’s exact numerical equivalent (i.e. 202052 to 201952).

Current Year WeekYOY Comparison Week
202053202001
202052201952
202051201951
202050201950

Overall, Walmart’s fiscal calendar is probably the industry’s most interesting and well-known. It is also reasonably simple in both its standard metrics and its layout. This makes the Walmart calendar easy to work with and analyze, which is helpful when doing business with the world’s largest retailer.

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