All posts by Marilyn Bernardo

NRF 2021 – A Complete Guide to the Virtual Big Show


By: John Abbasi

2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenges and change. With large gatherings still suspended due to the pandemic and at-home workspaces becoming the new norm, it’s hard to know when we’ll be back to a life of face-to-face meetings and handshakes with business partners.

The retail industry is no exception to the impact of COVID-19. Organizations have had to shift direction, pivot strategies and practice agility in the face of these new roadblocks. With NRF’s Big Show on the horizon, you may be wondering how a trade show of this magnitude can still go on. The answer: NRF 2021 Virtual Expo.

8 Companies You Can’t Miss at NRF 2021

1. Planalytics

Once a data provider and consulting firm turned SaaS platform, Planalytics has pioneered climate-driven solutions over the last 3 decades. They empower companies to use weather as a metric in their everyday business practices. When it comes to forecasting retail demand, weather can be a critical factor in the purchasing process. Check out their NRF page for more information on their virtual booth.

Planalytics has a fascinating interactive discussion on the books. Executive Vice President, Evan Gold will be leading the discussion focused on gauging performance and planning ahead after a year lacking meaningful comps due to COVID-19. “Coming off a year where consumer buying behavior changed so dramatically makes this difficult, but there are COVID-proof demand signals, such as weather, that retailers are using to clearly evaluate results and to identify opportunities for sales growth.”

You won’t want to miss this one. The discussion is limited to 50 individuals on a first-come, first-serve basis. Mark your calendar:

1/19 | 1:30 – 2pm EST. Planalytics Interactive Discussion: Forecasting and managing 2021 performance without meaningful comps.

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Mother Nature to Help Retailers in December

By: David Moin

It’s been one the strangest years ever for weather, but the forecast ahead looks good for retail.

In a season clouded by spiking COVID-19 cases, at least the weather will work in favor of retailers banking on holiday 2020 for profits.

“With December, there’s better news in store. Much of the north can expect colder and drier weather than last year,” said Evan Gold, executive vice president, global partnerships and alliances at Planalytics, a firm that provides weather intelligence to help retailers in their planning.

“Last year was the warmest December since 2015,” said Gold. “Colder year-over-year conditions will help with seasonal demand” for products such as hats, gloves, scarves, boots and coats.

“There are a lot of unknowns out there right now — the weather is not one of them. It has a known impact,” said Gold, during a conference call with John Harmon, senior analyst at Coresight Research.

December will prove to be a contrast to November, which was generally very warm during the first two weeks, diminishing the demand for seasonal products, observed Gold.

This year has certainly been one of the strangest ever for weather. As Gold said, “2020 was the busiest hurricane season on record. There were 29 storms in the Atlantic Basin this season. The second biggest was 2005, when we had 28. In a typical year we get 12.…The hurricane season is not over, stay on the outlook.”

Hurricanes did lead to a demand for certain products, like bottled water, canned goods, paper products and home repair supplies and equipment, while reducing demand for fashion and other categories.

He also said there were days in November when Montreal and Toronto were warmer than Los Angeles, and that Death Valley in California on Aug. 16 reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which was the highest temperature on Earth since 1931, and the third-hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth.

According to Harmon, American consumers are generally staying at home this season, rather than traveling, meaning they have more money to spend in stores and online, for themselves and for gifts. And there are more positive macroeconomic indicators than negative ones, helping push consumer sentiments up.

Harmon predicted a 5 percent increase in retail sales for the 2020 holiday period, which he characterized as stretching from October through December this year because of retailers unleashing Black Friday deals in October and not letting up on them.

The gain will be driven by a 33.5 percent increase in online shopping, accounting for 21.7 percent of total holiday sales, and positive macro indicators, Harmon said. Clothing, beauty, furniture and electronics have been strong selling categories online, he added.

The 5 percent prediction is consistent with some other retail pundits, including Craig Johnson of Customer Growth Partners, who predicted a 5.8 percent U.S. holiday retail sales gain, based largely on this year’s 5.4 percent in growth disposable income, wages being up, 11.5 million jobs created since the April nadir of the COVID-19 recession, and healthy household balance sheets. However, Deloitte was far more conservative, and somewhat uncertain, forecasting two possible scenarios: a 0-to-1 percent increase or a more significant 2.5-to-3.5 percent increase.

With COVID-19 cases spiking across the country, retailers could soon be faced with another round of mandatory store closings, possibly for weeks until the spread is contained, leading to a plummet in business, and pundits revising optimistic sales forecasts for the holiday.

In the third quarter, macro indicators were more plus than minus, Harmon pointed out, with gross domestic product rebounding recently, gas prices down, consumer sentiment rising for the last three months, and unemployment declining for the last six months and currently at 6.9 percent.

Retail sales turned positive in May and were quite robust in June through September, he said.

The best performers were Amazon, as well as home improvement, groceries and warehouse clubs. Generally, apparel retailers showed the weakest growth, he said.

“Black Friday is happening now,” said Harmon, with Walmart Inc, Target Corp., Kohl’s Corp., Best Buy Co. Inc. and Home Depot Inc. among the big retailers already offering Black Friday deals.

On the downside, Harmon did warn of a possible shortage of shipping capacity as online buying increases. He noted that one retailer advised shoppers to place orders by Dec. 4 so they’re guaranteed to receive their gifts in time for the holiday.

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Factoring the Weather into Spring 2021 DIY Retail Sales

Join Planalytics on the November 11th Webinar to hear how DIY retailers are using weather analytics to understand how sales have been impacted in 2020 and when and where consumer demand is likely to be more favorable (or unfavorable) during the critical 2021 Spring selling season.

Unlike other retailers where getting customers has been the main struggle, DIY retailers have found getting enough product to meet demand to be the primary challenge. During this Webinar, learn how DIY retailers put available product in the right place — the first time.

How is your business planning the key Spring 2021 season? Meeting or beating strong comps will be difficult for many businesses. Are your plans accounting for COVID-related sales distortions that are not likely to repeat in 2021? Similarly, are your plans factoring in this past Spring’s weather-based sales distortions?

Webinar topics include:

  • Adding certainty to planning baselines with weather-driven demand analytics
  • Identifying and proactively managing in-season sales opportunities and risks through weather-informed replenishment and digital marketing.
  • Examples of Spring season weather sensitivity (how much could the weather swing sales positively or negatively) for key categories and weather-driven demand impacts to watch for in Spring 2021.


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Driving Sales During Favourable Weather Periods

Winning with the Weather: Webinar Series
Driving Sales During Favourable Weather Periods

Changes in the weather generate significant changes in consumer purchasing, creating both opportunities and risks. Join Planalytics on 22 July to learn how companies can “win with the weather”, capturing much-needed sales by capitalising on situations where demand for products and services strengthens. To highlight business benefits, the webinar will share real-world examples to highlight how companies use analytics to identify and take advantage of elevated demand trends due to favourable weather conditions.

Webinar topics include:

  • Introduction to Weather-Driven Demand (WDD) — What is it, how is it calculated, and how companies leverage it throughout the year
  • Use case examples covering how businesses optimise inventories to increase sales and to improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns
  • A look at what WDD analytics reveal about weather-based opportunities in the late summer and early autumn periods

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Weather Poses Significant Risk to U.S. Corn Crop Entering Critical Pollination Phase


BERWYN, PA, July 1, 2020 — After last year’s delayed start to the season, planting of the 2020 U.S. corn crop brought with it quite a bit of optimism for producers across the Heartland.  Now, according to Planalytics AgriBusiness Weather group, that optimism may have tempered somewhat as a combination of hot, dry conditions have taken hold from the Dakotas south to Missouri and east to Ohio.

“No sooner did seed get in the ground when an unusually cold pattern set up that continued through the first two weeks of May”, says Jeffrey Doran, Planalytics AgriBusiness Meteorologist and Director, Specialized Support and Services. “Sub-freezing temperatures were reported as far south as the Missouri Valley and Mid-South regions that slowed crop development.  By the end of May, the pattern reversed itself bringing surges of strong heat that have continued into June.  Unfortunately, precipitation has been hit or miss with drought intensity increasing in recent weeks from the Plains to portions of Illinois and Indiana,” Doran adds.

Market analysts have begun to speculate whether there will be a “weather bump” that will affect commodity prices this summer as they did in 2017.  “Corn prices jumped 40 to 45 cents a bushel during a two week period in July between the June 30th and July USDA WASDE reports”, recalls Sterling Smith, Bloomberg’s Agricultural Market Specialist. As it turns out, 2017 is one of the analog years Planalytics Head of Weather, Mike Greve, had previously identified when developing his seasonal outlooks for agribusiness clients.”

According to USDA’s June 29th Crop Progress Report, corn has begun to silk in a number of Corn Belt States. This marks the start of pollination, the most critical phase of crop development when crop yields are most affected, particularly due to lack of moisture. “Over the next two weeks, a combination of excessive heat and little precipitation will have a significant effect on crops”, states Greve. “To help put our forecast into context, we’ve developed a Corn Silking Stress index and map based on a combination of factors.”

REGISTER HERE for Planalytics Mid-July Corn and Soybean Outlook Webcast.



Planalytics, Inc. ( is the global leader in Business Weather Intelligence®. Through advanced weather analysis technologies, planning and optimization solutions, and industry-specific expertise, Planalytics helps companies precisely measure weather-driven impacts and effectively manage the never-ending variability of climate. Leading companies from a wide array of industries use Planalytics to “weatherize their business”, taking advantage of opportunities to increase revenue while deploying strategies to reduce costs and protect margins during periods of risk.

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Assessing Weather Risk to 2020 U.S. Corn Crops

AgriBusiness Weather Intelligence Webinar Series
Assessing Weather Risk to 2020 U.S. Corn Crops

Jeffrey Doran, Director, Specialized Support and Services, Planalytics
Michael Greve, Director of Meteorology, Planalytics
Jim Sheppard, Vice-President of Food & Feed, Legacy Seed Companies

After the disappointing start to last year’s growing season, producers and their suppliers were enthusiastic about the prospects for 2020. Corn has begun to silk across the Corn Belt just as temperatures begin to rise and prospects for much needed moisture are diminished. The July 16th webinar will focus on current corn and soybean crop conditions and the effects of weather during the critical corn pollination phase.

Webinar topics include:

  • Summary of 2020 Corn Belt Weather to Date
  • Measuring the Impact of Weather on Corn Crop Development
    • Accumulated Growing Degree Days
    • Satellite NDVI “Greenness” vs. Last Year and Normal
    • Corn Crop Yield Potential
  • Short Range Weather Forecast –thru July
  • Major Weather Factors Influencing Harvest


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Capturing the Localization Opportunity

Join Antony Karabus, CEO, HRC Advisory, North America’s leading strategic retail advisory firm ( and Fred Fox, CEO, Planalytics, the leading global provider of demand analytics addressing the financial impact of weather on the retail supply chain (

On May 13th, HRC Advisory and Planalytics hosted a webinar discussing how optimizing the precision of inventory at the local level will be more critical than ever for retailers in a post-COVID-19 landscape.

Please join us for a follow-on webinar that takes a more detailed look at one of the most volatile important factors driving localized consumer demand — THE WEATHER. The presentation will explore how retailers can better understand this key external variable, precisely quantify the sales impacts, and analytically incorporate these metrics into location-item level plans and demand forecasts.

Webinar topics include:

• Introduction to Weather-Driven Demand and how retailers use it to understand sales and better align inventories to meet demand shifts created by weather variability.
• Examples of the benefits companies are realizing including working capital gains, lower waste/shrink costs, increased sales from reduced out-of-stocks, and gross margin improvement through decreased markdowns.
• How to quickly capture the value of localization by incorporating weather impact analytics, proven process and change management approaches for MP&A, and system integration strategies.


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Improving the Precision of Inventory Management

Join Antony Karabus, CEO, HRC Advisory, North America’s leading strategic retail advisory firm ( and Fred Fox, CEO, Planalytics, the leading global provider of demand analytics addressing the financial impact of weather on the retail supply chain ( for a webinar that explores the growing importance of operationalizing localized analytics and variation in demand forecasts between store locations to more precisely and profitably manage their inventory investment.

Discussion topics for the webinar include:

  • Understanding how more precise, location-based data analytics help retailers more profitably and proactively address shifting demand caused by variations in weather, demographics, regional fashion and other factors.
  • A look at the growing influence of weather on consumer buying decisions due to more need-based purchasing and how more proactively incorporating this information into making better inventory decisions provides upfront working capital gains and repeatable annual benefits that more accurate demand forecasts deliver in terms of reduced lost sales, markdown savings, lower shrink/waste costs, and more.
  • The analytics, enhanced inventory planning processes, role accountabilities and change management that retailers will need to more proactively and profitably navigate the new consumer demand landscape.
  • The role a “Rapid Response Team”  can play to ensure inventory optimization is effectively managed through the pandemic and its aftermath, from best navigating the remainder of the current season to the holiday shopping period to planning 2021 and beyond.

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Spring Weather Impacts for
DIY & Garden Retail

Join Planalytics for our Spring Weather Impacts for DIY & Garden Retail Webcast

Even with the unprecedented and very challenging COVID-19 crisis affecting everyone, the weather will be a driver behind consumer purchasing, and changes in the weather during the key spring period will have a direct influence on traffic for the hardware, home center, and garden retailer sectors. Lawn & garden maintenance and household projects will happen, given the number of people staying home. Please join us to hear how earlier or later warmth, precipitation changes, etc. will impact sales performance across different regions and categories. Learn where the opportunities may be stronger as well as when less favorable conditions will introduce sales risks.

Topics include:

  • Overview of Weather-Driven Demand and how this metric is used to quantify and manage the weather’s impact on sales
  • Review of weather sensitivities (the % of sales directly related to changes in the weather) for key DIY, lawn & garden, and outdoor product categories
  • Outlook for the core spring season highlighting weather-based sales impacts to watch for over the next couple of months.


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