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Weathering the Storm

Severe cold and record-breaking snowfall can pose challenges and present opportunities for retailers – provided they’re prepared.

By: Kirby Stirland, Earnshaws

Major chains don’t take chances with nature. Instead, they bring in firms like Planalytics, a business weather intelligence service, to help strategize. Its experts track changes in weather-driven demand for various categories of goods compared to prior years. Data like this can certainly be helpful to buyers when plotting their assortments for future seasons, but even so, experts warn against making decisions based on the whims of Mother Nature. “Year over year, weather repeats itself about 20 percent of the time, which means that about 80 percent of the time, weather will revert back to normal,” explains Maria Maldonado, manager of client services at Planalytics. “We advise all of our clients to use ‘normal’ to plan for the next season,” she says, noting that retailers are likely to end up over-purchasing inventory if they buy based on statistically unusual weather.

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