Indian summer could cost retailers £80m a week
Written by Peter Walker
Any continuation of this summer’s hot weather into September could cost non-food retailers £80 million per week.
A report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), based on Met Office analysis of weather data, indicates that temperature can have a significant influence on how much is spent on retail goods – but only at certain times of the year.
The impact is strongest from mid-August to early October, where warmer weather delays the purchase of Autumn-Winter ranges. Over that period, for each degree warmer it is than the previous year, growth in sales is reduced by 1.1 per cent, equivalent to around £40 million per week.
This summer has seen temperatures on average two degrees higher, and if that trend continues into September non-food retailers will see sales £80 million per week lower than they would have been otherwise.
Weather impacts differ across product categories. Clothing and footwear sales are particularly negatively affected by warmer temperatures in the autumn, while women’s (but not men’s) clothing sales are boosted by higher temperatures in the spring. Sales of furniture and home textiles benefit from cooler weather in the summer but are little affected by changes in temperature during the winter.
Understanding the impact of the weather is crucial for retailers, according to the BRC, which suggested they need to be prepared to respond to unexpected weather patterns in stocking decisions and marketing activities.
Rachel Lund, the BRC’s head of insight and analytics, said: “While few in the retail industry would deny that the weather impacts how we shop, the fact that this study reveals that its impact can be large and changeable only serves to highlight some of the complexity retailers have to navigate in serving consumers.”
Malcolm Lee, weather analytics manager for the Met Office, added that the research shows that for certain product lines at certain times of year, sales growth is strongly influenced by the weather.
“However, there is much less evidence that total sales are impacted over the season as a whole; it is the profile of the spend in the season (such as early or late season shopping) that the weather impacts most strongly.
“This research enables weather intelligence to be used much more effectively in managing a retail business,” he added.
Steve Newton, UK and Europe executive vice president of Worldpay, said his firm's recent research around consumer beauty spending found a similar trend.
During the first two weeks of the UK heatwave (22 June - 5 August) saw beauty related transactions fall by an average of 8.3 per cent, compared with the same period last year.
“Beauty businesses and retailers need to be aware and prepared for how changes in temperature can affect sales, and offer customers deals and a better experience to keep them coming through the doors," said Newton. "Be this a sales offer or better customer engagement on social media, there’s plenty of ways non-food retailers can beat the impact of the heat."