The 2020 and 2021 Retail Calendar: Key dates you need to know about as a retail business in 2020 and 2021

The tail end of 2020 and start of 2021 look very different to what anyone expected earlier in the year, so it’s time to update your retail calendar to match! While holiday dates remain the same, conferences and events have moved to 2021, or reverted to virtual alternatives.

What is a Retail Calendar?

You might think a retail calendar is simply a normal calendar with retail-based events like holiday seasons, brand shows, or conferences noted onto it. That’s not quite the full picture. It’s unique to the retail industry, and has a particular way of laying out the year. This method has two major benefits:

  • Being able to compare sales per quarter, with those quarters having the same number of days.
  • Being able to compare sales data from different years, with the same day of the week.

There are two commonly used methods – the 4-4-5 and the 4-5-4. Without using these, you end up with data that’s hard to use. For instance, your retail calendar 2020 has four weekends in January, whilst your retail calendar 2021 has five. By using one of these methods, you even out the number of weekends and make it easier to compare.

1. 4-4-5.

The 4-4-5 method consists of four quarters, each of 91 days (13 weeks). Month one and two in each quarter are four weeks, whilst month three is five weeks. It also starts in February, not January. That means.

Using the 4-4-5 method, the retail week calendar template for 2021 breaks down like so:

  • First quarter: 31 Jan – 27 Feb, 28 Jan – 27 Mar, 28 Mar – 1 May
  • Second quarter: 2 May – 29 May, 30 May – 26 June, 27 June – 31 July
  • Third quarter: 1 Aug – 28 Aug, 29 Aug – 25 Sept, 26 Sept – 30 Oct
  • Fourth quarter: 31 Oct – 27 Nov, 28 Nov – 25 Dec, 26 Dec – 29 Jan

You’ll have noticed something missing here – four times 91 is 364, so the 30th January 2021 isn’t accounted for. That means every five or six years, a week is added to the fiscal calendar.

2. 4-5-4.

The 4-5-4 calendar is similar, but month two is the one that has five weeks. This was derived in the 1930s, and is recommended by the National Retail Federation (NRF). Using this method, your retail week calendar 2021 breaks down like this:

  • First quarter: 31 Jan – 27 Feb, 28 Feb – 3 Apr, 4 Apr- 1 May
  • Second quarter: 2 May – 29 May, 30 May- 3 July, 4 July – 31 July
  • Third quarter: 1 Aug – 28 Aug, 29 Aug – 2 Oct, 3 Oct – 30 Oct
  • Fourth quarter: 31 Oct – 27 Nov, 28 Nov – 1 Jan, 2 Jan- 29 Jan

As above, the 30th of January isn’t accounted for.

What are the 5 Week Months in 2021?

Depending on the method you use, the five week months are:

  • 4-4-5: (roughly) April, July, October and January
  • 4-5-4: (roughly) March, June, September and December

Whilst using the standard calendar, the months with five weekends in 2021 are January, May, August, and October.

You can already see what one of the downsides of a retail calendar might be. It’s great for comparing quarters and equivalent days, but not good for comparing month to month sales. Using the 4-5-4 method, February has one week less than March, so direct comparisons are hard.

This is often made up for by the advantage of long-term data gathering, where each month and quarter has the same number of weekends regardless of how the actual months fall on the standard calendar. Your merchandising calendar 2020 can be directly compared to 2021 with ease, instead of having to manually account for the fact that January 2020 had one less weekend on the standard calendar than 2021. This is helpful for physical stores and online sellers.

A retail calendar is also helpful for planning your marketing campaigns – after all, it’s no good having that perfectly tailored social media post go out in a quiet week! The comparability of this system makes it easy to map out a marketing calendar based on data from previous years.

Now we’ve got that clear, let’s take a look at what important dates you need to add to your retail calendar.

Retail Calendar 2020

September

  • Variable – Back to School (US, UK). 
  • 1 – Labor Day (US).
  • 1-2 – Pure London (Virtual). This event has moved from the physical to the virtual, and is now called “Fashion Together”. There’ll be peer-to-peer panels, brand exhibitions, and the latest ready-to-wear.
  • 13-15 – A/W Top Drawer (UK). Taking place in Olympia London, this Autumn/Winter trade show focuses on gifts, design, and homeware.
  • 15-16 – Glee (Virtual). Glee, or ‘Garden, Leisure, Equipment Exhibition’ has gone online too! There’ll be a virtual showroom, content sessions and panels and the 2020 New Product Awards.
  • 15-17 – Vow New World of Bridal (US). This bridal event features seminars, fashion shows, and wedding vendors.
  • 18-20 – Rosh Hashanah.
  • 21-23 – Fall Design Week (US). A physical event with a virtual lead-up, Fall Design Week hosts products, gifts, and home showrooms.
  • 22 – Autumn Equinox.
  • 27 – 28 – Yom Kippur.
  • 29-1 – eCommerce Expo (Virtual). An online event with over 60 seminars about ecommerce strategy, tactics, and tools.

October

  • 1-31 Black History Month.
  • 6-7 – Pay Expo (UK). Focusing on banking, fintech, and retail, this event has an exhibition hall, a detailed conference program, and a networking app.
  • 10 – World Mental Health Day
  • 12 – Thanksgiving (Canada).
  • 12 – Columbus Day (US).
  • 13-14 Amazon Prime Day
  • 13-17 – October Atlanta Apparel (US). These showrooms will focus on spring and resort, as well as holiday and winter immediates. 
  • 16 – Boss’s Day (US).
  • 20-22 – Shoptalk (Virtual). Shoptalk Meetup is a digital space to network and book meetings with other companies. They’re aiming for 20,000+ video conference interactions over the three days.
  • 25-25 – The Baby Show (UK + Virtual). Aimed at new and soon-to-be parents, this hybrid event will be having live events alongside its digital platform. 
  • 31 – Halloween.

November

  • 3-5 – Fall Cash and Carry (US). Designed for anyone needing an immediate inventory, there are no minimum orders and lots of discounted floor samples.
  • 5 – Bonfire Night (UK).
  • 8 – Remembrance Sunday (UK)
  • 11 – Veterans’ Day (US).
  • 11 – Single’s Day (China).
  • 11 – Remembrance Day (UK.)
  • 14 – Diwali.
  • 18-19 – The British Business Show (UK). With speed networking, an investment den, and a lot of masterclasses alongside the exhibitions, this is a huge event for British businesses.
  • 26 – Thanksgiving (US).
  • 27 – Black Friday.
  • 30 – Cyber Monday.

December

  • TBC – National Free Shipping Day (US). This national shopping holiday regularly draws in lots of media attention and breaks retail records.
  • 10-18 – Hanukkah.
  • 21 – Winter Solstice.
  • 24 – Christmas Eve.
  • 25 – Christmas Day.
  • 26 – Boxing Day (UK National Holiday).
  • 31 – New Year’s Eve.

Retail Calendar 2021

January

  • 1 – New Year’s Day.
  • 1-31 – Dry January.
  • 1-31 – Veganuary.
  • 10-12 – S/S Top Drawer (UK). Taking place in Olympia London, this Spring/Summer trade show focuses on gifts, design, and homeware
  • 12-14, 19 and 21-22 – Retail’s Big Show (Virtual). The first of two 2021 shows, this one is online with virtual ‘booths’, ‘lounges’, and AI matchmaking, alongside the content sessions.
  • 12-19 – Atlanta Gift and Home Market (US). This gift, decor, and lifestyle market features more than 8,000 brands. Trade only.
  • 17-19 – Giving and Living Trade Show (UK). This gift and home show focuses heavily on coast and tourism items, and is essential for anyone in the holidaymaker market.
  • 18 – Martin Luther King Day (US).
  • 19-21 – The Toy Fair (UK). The UK’s largest dedicated toy, game and hobby trade show with more than 270 companies exhibiting. Not open to the general public.
  • 25 – Burns Night (UK).
  • 27-29 – Outdoor Retailer Snow Show (US). This B2B event focuses on the outdoor sports industry, targeting brands, retailers, and designers alike.

February

  • 2-6 – Atlanta Apparel Market (US). These showrooms will focus on spring/summer, as well as immediates. 
  • 7-11 – Spring Fair (UK). One of the big UK home and gift events, this year’s Spring Fair will have a sustainability trail, perfect for businesses looking for more eco-friendly choices.
  • 7-9 – Moda (UK). This event hosts fashion line-ups including womenswear, accessories, and footwear from over 400 brands, as well as speaker content and great networking opportunities. 
  • 12 – Chinese New Year (Year of the Ox).
  • 14 – Valentine’s Day.
  • 15 – Presidents’ Day (US).
  • 14-15 – PATS (UK). This pet event had over 4,000 pet retailers attend in 2019. Expect exhibits, demonstrations (such as grooming), and seminars.
  • 14-16 – Pure London (UK). This fashion trade show hosts 1,300 womenswear, menswear, and kidswear collections, alongside retail solutions. 
  • 16 – Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday.
  • 21-24 – Retail Supply Chain Conference (US). Top executives from leading retailers gather to network, teach, and learn about the role of the supply chain in business.
  • 28-3 Mar – ASD Market Week (US). This B2B trade show has a huge variety of high margin retail merchandise, free educational sessions, and perks for the local area (Vegas!).

March

  • 28 Feb – 3 – ASD Market Week (continued) (US).
  • 2-3 – DX3 (Canada). Made up of a retail summit, a marketing and innovation summit, as well as talks, workshops, and an exhibition, this is great for anyone interested in retail, digital marketing, and technology.
  • 4 – World Book Day.
  • 8 – International Women’s Day.
  • 14 – Mother’s Day (UK).
  • 14-18 – Adobe Summit (US). This event is focused on marketing automation, analytics, advertising, and commerce.
  • 17 – St Patrick’s Day.
  • 17-18 – IRX and eDX (UK). Now incorporating the eDelivery expo, the Internet Retailing expo hosts an innovation showcase, expert clinics, and workshops. There’s plenty of opportunities to network and explore the exhibition too.
  • 20 – First Day of Spring.
  • 21-24 – ShopTalk (US). ShopTalk’s in-person event has moved from September 2020, but will keep the all-women speaker lineup that was planned. In their own words, they focus on community, connections, and content.
  • 28 – Passover.
  • 29 – Holi.

April

  • 1 – April Fool’s Day.
  • 2 – Good Friday (UK National Holiday).
  • 4 – Easter Sunday.
  • 5 – Easter Monday (UK National Holiday).
  • 13 – Start of Ramadan.
  • 13-15 – Vow New World of Bridal (US). This bridal event features seminars, fashion shows, and wedding vendors.
  • 13-17 – Atlanta Apparel Market (US). These showrooms will focus on Autumn/Winter, Summer immediates, and shoes.
  • 14-15 – Retail Week Live (UK). Moved from October 2020, Retail Week Live will focus on strategy and technology – including how to manage in a crisis.
  • 15 – Tax Day (US).
  • 19 – Patriots Day (UK).
  • 22 – Earth Day.
  • 23 – St George’s Day (UK).
  • 29-30 – Global Retailing Ideas Summit (US). A two day series of lectures from leading industry figures, taking place at the University of Arizona Campus located in Tucson, Arizona.
  • TBC – Retail Expo (UK). Dates are yet to be announced, but this event focuses on solutions and advice for both the retail and the hospitality sector.

May

  • 3 – May Day (UK Bank Holiday).
  • 4 – Star Wars Day.
  • 5 – Cinco de Mayo (US + Mexico).
  • 9 – Mother’s Day (US).
  • 13 – Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan).
  • 31 – Spring Bank Holiday (UK).
  • 31 – Memorial Day.

June

  • 1-30 – Pride Month.
  • 6-8 – Retail’s Big Show (US). Part two of this event, this one is in-person. It will still take advantage of the AI matchmaking alongside the physical exhibition and talks.
  • 9-12 – Atlanta Apparel Market (US). These showrooms will focus on Fall, Immediates, Holiday, and Gameday.
  • 14-16 ShopTalk Europe (UK). The Europe-focused version of the American event comes to London this June.
  • 19 – Juneteenth (US).
  • 20 – Father’s Day (US + UK).
  • 24 – Midsummer’s Day.

July

  • 1-31 – Independent Retailer Month (UK). Running throughout July, this campaign highlights small, local businesses. 
  • 4 – Independence Day (US).
  • 20 – Eid al-Adha.
  • 18-21 – Home and Gift (UK). A good time to get stock in for Christmas, this trade show has been running for nearly 60 years. As well as home and gift, there’s design, craft, and food products on show.
  • 23-8 Aug – Tokyo Summer Olympics.

August

  • 23 July – 8 – Tokyo Summer Olympics (continued).
  • 7-10 – The Inspired Home Show (US). Formerly International Home + Housewares Show, this event is packed with product launches and uniquely North American brands.
  • 30 – Summer Bank Holiday (UK).

September

  • Variable – back to school (US + UK).
  • 5-8 – Autumn Fair (UK). Free workshops, seminars, and talks sit alongside exhibits of jewellery, fashion, and furniture, as well as an updated design and source sector.
  • 6-8 Rosh Hashanah.
  • 14-16 – Glee (UK). Glee, or ‘Garden, Leisure, Equipment Exhibition’ has over 550 brands and over 7000 visitors. It also has special offers for international attendees. 
  • 16 – Yom Kippur
  • 19-21 – Groceryshop (US). Launched in 2018, Groceryshop focuses on grocery and CPG (consumer packaged goods), with attendees including brands, stores, startups, and investors.

October

  • 1 – 31 – Black History Month.
  • 10 – World Mental Health Day.
  • 11 – Thanksgiving (Canada).
  • 12 – Columbus Day (US).
  • 31 – Halloween.

November

  • 4 – Diwali.
  • 5 – Bonfire Night.
  • 11 – Remembrance Day (UK).
  • 11 – Veterans Day (US).
  • 11 – Singles’ Day (China).
  • 14 – Remembrance Sunday (UK).
  • 25 – Thanksgiving (US).
  • 26 – Black Friday.
  • 28 – start of Hanukkah.
  • 29 – Cyber Monday.

December

  • 6 – End of Hanukkah.
  • 21 – Winter Solstice.
  • 25 – Christmas Day.
  • 26 – Boxing Day.
  • 28 – Bank Holiday.
  • 31 – New Year’s Eve.

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