By: Daphne Howland
Colder weather sweeping the U.S. in early December could give apparel stores a $243 million weather-driven same-store sales boost during the first half of December (Dec. 4 through 17), compared to the same period last year, according to retail weather-strategy company Planalytics.
Demand for coats, knitwear, boots and other cold weather apparel is significantly higher than the warmer year-ago period and will be up 5% overall as consumers experience colder temperatures compared to last year, according to reports emailed to Retail Dive.
Planalytics predicts the current cold trend will extend into next week and snow and wintry conditions in some markets will keep sales at apparel stores robust.
Several retailers this year and last complained in their quarterly reports that unseasonably warm weather and storms hurt sales. Now the winds seem to have turned in their favor.
Last year, warm temps and a dearth of snow hit many retailers hard during the holiday shopping season. The El Niño-pattern induced warm weather and spurred a $421 million loss in sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 19 for apparel retailers (not including department stores), Planalytics said earlier this year.
Yet, in the new year, more seasonably cold temps and snow arrived too late for many specialty apparel retailers to recoup their resulting losses, the firm said at the time. While the boots piled up (or sold at thin margins), a cool spring (also due to El Niño) exacerbated weather-related sales problems, as shoppers saw no reason to shed the sweaters they did buy (on sale).
Mother Nature appears to be cooperating with retailers this year, but the climate effects of global warming, which make prediction a more volatile enterprise, mean that retailers would be wise to keep an eye on week-to-week weather patterns, Planalytics warns. While snowstorms famously keep shoppers away from stores, it’s not really those major events that matter when it comes to retail logistics, the company notes in its report, “Weatherizing a Retail Business.”
“The reality is the weather is more than an excuse, it’s a reason,” meteorologist and weather analytics expert Paul Walsh, VP of weather strategy and business meteorologist at The Weather Company, told Retail Dive last year. “When it’s 70 degrees in New York, people aren’t going to buy a winter jacket, they just aren’t. But retailers can think about ways to strategize around that.”