There is a lot written about the real economic value of leap year. Intuitively, we feel it’s a no brainer how can 1 more day NOT be good for the economy and in particular for retailers? We shall answer the question with data. We shall compare the 2 skunkiest months in the retail calendar, Jan & Feb in both “common” yrs and leap yrs. In common yrs, Jan has a considerable advantage with 31 days vs 28 for Feb (+10.7%). In leap yrs Feb gets 1 more precious selling day. We chose to sample the years from 1992 to 2015. (The leap yrs were 92, 96, 00, 04, 08 & 12. The common yrs 93-95, 97-99, 2001-03, 05-07, 09-11 and 13-15). Our discovery was that leap yrs with their 29 days in Feb always out revenued the common yrs. (It was 6 for 6 or 100%.) As for the common years, the preponderance of the data leans strongly towards Jan. In the 18 intervening common years, Jan won 14 (78%) of the retail battles. (In other words 31 days beats 28 days most of the time.) Our humble calculation is that leap yrs are worth about $14 B ± more in retail sales.a So what the heck does that really mean? 1st, lets be clear to those pundits and critics who claimed that $14 B are p-e-a-n-u-t-s; OK, we agree they’re peanuts; NO less than peanuts. It’s actually .00078 of last year’s GDP. As the Planter’s comm’l asks did you ever see a peanut “take a day off”? Well, for retailers Feb 29th is “game on” day, baby, game on!. Let’s de-shell these peanuts and see what we have.


  • Given our current $17.95 T± GDP, that’s about 7 hrs of GDP $$.
  • $14 B is about the size of Malta’s GDP ($14.7 B) which is 154th or about 32½% up the ladder in
  • $14 B is greater than 2015’s movie Domestic Box Office of $11.127 B (BoxOfficeMojo).
  • $14 B means that every man, woman and child in the US could purchase 1 share of Coca Cola $43.91 based on the Leap Year Day Dollar$. (320 M Americans would actually have $43.75 to purchase Warren Buffet’s fave stock from this $14 B LY
  • Finally, $14 B is about the value of:
    • The entire NHL ($15.150 B) minus Toronto (Value $1,150 M) is $14.0 B.
    • The value of 7 MLB franchises the NYY, LAD, BST, SFG, CHC, STL & DET sum to $14,025 B.


  • NBA franchises LAL, NYN, CHI, BST, LAC, BRL, GSW & DET (sum is $14.010 B).
  • NFL franchises DAL, NE, WSH, 78% of DET AND the entire 18 team MLS are $14 B.

Lastly, we share with our kind readers the retail sectors that have the strongest and the weakest response to Leap Year Day. There are 13 general retail sectors and here’s how they connect to the leap yr phenomenon. (We use the data from, Estimates of Monthly Retail Sales by Kinds of Biz.)

Best General Retailers:

  • Mtr Vehicle +5.2%
  • Clothing & Accessories +4.8%
  • Gen’l Merchandise (including Dept Stores & Discounters) +4.7% (most of this LY increase comes from Jewelry which is +5.7%. You might say that LYD is a gem of a day!)
  • Furniture & Home Furnishing +3.7%
  • Bldg Mat & Garden Supply (as Home Depot) +3.3%
  • Fd Serv & Drink Estab (Restaurants & Bars)+2.8%

Worst General Retailers:

  • Sporting Goods + Hbby Shops
  • Non Store Retailers
  • Food & Bev (Grocery Stores)



According to, the ancient Egyptians were the 1st to determine that the solar yr and their calendar didn’t match, b/c it took 365 ¼± days (1/4 day = 5 hrs, 48 min, 46 sec) for the earth to travel around the sun. In 46 BC Julius Caesar established the Leap Year with that addition of Feb 29th. In the 16th century, there was more calendar slack so Pope Gregory XVIII tweaked (not tweeted) the calendar one more time (Leap Days occur only in years divisible by 4, except that no year divisible by 100 can have a LEAPY unless it is also divisible by 400. Hence, 2000 was a LEAPY but 1900 was NOT.)




  • The odds of a Leap Day b-day are 1 in 1461.
  • There are about 7 B± on the face of the earth with 8 M being leapies (Leap Day b-days. This estimation is by calculation).
  • In the US there are about 320 M± There are slightly over 219,000 Leap Day b-Days (This estimation is by calculation).


aWe also have just completed a study of the 16 yrs prior to 1992. Our discovery yielded 4 of 6 leap yrs Feb retail being greater than Jan (67%). For the common yrs 14 of 18 Jans (78%) had greater retail than Febs.

About bernacmd

For over 24 years, University of Detroit Mercy Marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi, Ph.D., J.D, has produced "uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE", a newsletter discussing current "marketing and advertising¹s bends, trends & ends." A well-know fixture in Detroit and national media, UDM's marketing guru has made several appearances on CNN's "Talk Back Live," the Voice of America worldwide radio network (VOA), ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time, TV Guide, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, to name a few. At University of Detroit Mercy, he has taught courses in Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Communications, Research and Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Michael Bernacchi can be reached at 313-993-1116 or Please appropriately attribute the following for their work on uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE: Yen Ju Lee Robert Rouse Vidhyasagar Natarajan Eric Baumgardner & Ian Young
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