All posts by Tara McAdams

For Most Retailers, a Holiday Performance That Transcends the COVID-19 Crisis


By: David Moin with contributions from Jean E. Palmieri, Kali Hays

Apparel lagged this holiday, although cozy pieces, activewear and sneakers did well.

After a holiday season with little festivity and no shortage of uncertainty, America’s retailers are feeling all right.

While the pandemic has decimated shopping inside “nonessential” stores and has put millions out of work, digital sales have skyrocketed, and foot traffic at mass chains, big-box category killers, warehouse clubs, groceries and pharmacies all deemed “essential” was strong during the holidays. It was a hardlines Christmas, for sure, with home, electronics and appliances outperforming soft goods, although activewear, sneakers and cozy apparel were exceptions. . . .

. . . According to Evan Gold of Planalytics, the snowstorm a week before Christmas “got people into a Christmas mind-set and was great for all the seasonable businesses, citing ice melts, snow blowers, boots, sweaters, gloves and hats, heaters, blankets, firewood, bird feeders, soup, hot chocolate, coffee and other comfort foods.

“For anyone looking to clear those products, the storm was well timed. That storm was pretty well forecasted up to a week out. People buy based on what’s forecasted in the weather, as much as when the weather actually happens.”

He said retailers benefited by this December being colder than December 2019, with below freezing temperatures widespread, particularly for Boxing Day and the week ensuing, supporting post Christmas clearances and gift card redemptions.

“Mother Nature has been volatile, but the weather very, very rarely repeats itself,” Gold said. . . .

Read the original article here.

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Planalytics 2020 Ag Weather Review and Holiday Season Outlook

Join Planalytics AgriBusiness Weather Intelligence Team for a review of the major weather factors that affected U.S. agriculture in 2020. 

Topics will include:

  • Drought in the West, Plains and Midwest.
  • Drenching rains and Tropical Storms in the South.
  • Derecho’s destruction in Iowa.

These are just some of the factors farmers and their agribusiness partners were confronted with this year that will be covered.


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Black Friday Weekend Meets Modest Expectations


By: By David Moin and Kali Hays with contributions from Jean E. Palmieri, Rosemary Feitelberg, Evan Clark

E-commerce and hardline sales rose dramatically during the Thanksgiving weekend period, keeping many major retailers on track for mid-single-digit holiday gains.

In a Thanksgiving weekend unlike any other, department stores and fashion specialty retailers fought hard for business and met their modest expectations. . . .

. . . “Just about everywhere was warm. This was the warmest and driest Black Friday weekend since 2017. No major markets were impacted by snowfall,” said Evan Gold, executive vice president of global partnerships and alliances at Planalytics, a firm that helps retailers plan their businesses based on forecasting the weather. “From a business perspective, obviously the demand for cold weather apparel and hot food was limited. Even though more people have been shopping online, the weather still has a big impact on what they’re buying. Instead of gloves, sweaters, jackets and blankets, they were buying more electronics, toys, and a lot for outdoor holiday decorating.” The mild weather this past weekend also facilitated curbside and in-store package pickups, Gold noted.

“December will be colder and slightly drier than last year, which was the fifth warmest December in 125 years. The cold should help sales of cold weather merchandise, and when we pass these shipping windows [for receiving packages before Christmas] people will go out to the stores to purchase gifts,” predicted Gold. . . .

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Analyse This Daily Demand Driver to Increase Sales

The Retailer, British Retail Consortium (BRC)
David Frieberg, VP Marketing, Planalytics


Taking advantage of selling opportunities when they materialise has never been more important. The pandemic has constrained spending, consumers are focusing more on need-based purchases than discretionary ones, and shoppers are making fewer trips to stores. All in all, retailers have a limited number of chances to get it right, capture sales, and satisfy customers before their competitors do.

Staying ahead of shifting consumer demand patterns is difficult; after all, there are a lot of external variables that a retailer can’t control. For many of these uncontrollable factors – the economy, consumer confidence, and of course, COVID-19 – businesses can really only react and adapt. Many of these large-scale underlying factors tend to develop over time and evolve slowly. Retailers make the adjustments they can until circumstances begin to change, often months later.

The weather is another uncontrollable demand driver. However, unlike the previously mentioned factors, the weather’s impact on demand will flip between positive and negative frequently and often dramatically, creating new opportunities (and risks) on a daily basis. There is another key difference between weather and the other external demand influencers – the weather’s impacts can be proactively managed by retailers.


Leveraging analytics that pinpoint when, where, and how much demand will be increasing due to changes in the weather is a very effective way to boost sales without sacrificing margin. Favourable weather is like a promotion or markdown, without the cost. Retailers can ring up healthy sales in outerwear when items are discounted 40% but retailers also see sales volumes jump when cold, wintry weather sets in. Warm, sunny days will move as many or more units of bottled water as a “3 for the price of 2” deal. The right weather will generate demand and, for retailers that are prepared, a chance to satisfy customers and increase sales.

Of course this only works if a retailer has the inventory on hand to meet demand. The easiest path to increasing turnover and profit is to minimise lost sales due to out-of-stocks. Overstocking stores (or warehouses for online orders) is not the answer – this just balloons inventory costs and leads to operational inefficiencies, deeper markdowns, and/or increased waste.

Businesses can capture sales opportunities sensibly and repeatedly by using weather-driven demand analytics to better align inventories with consumer demand. Typically, retailers can grow revenue by 50 to 200 basis points by optimising inventories for weather impacted sales.

However, using raw meteorological forecast data to capitalise on weather opportunities does not work. Companies that try this approach quickly discover how challenging it is to operationalise the data and effectively integrate temperatures, precipitation amounts, etc. into demand forecasts, replenishment solutions, and decision making. Even businesses that bring weather data into ML/AI platforms do not come close to matching the accuracy improvement generated by weather-driven demand analytics.

Weather-driven demand metrics are developed by modeling multiple years of actual product sales by location and time period with the corresponding historical observed weather. The process accurately identifies weather-to-sales relationships and precisely quantifies the impacts with percent or unit change metrics a business can action.

A retailer can apply weather-driven demand insights to more optimally match up inventories with consumer demand in both pre-season planning and allocation and for near-term replenishment.

From a pre-season standpoint, weather-driven demand is used to correct planning baselines for both positive and negative weather-based sales distortions that are highly unlikely to repeat from one year to the next. Retailers that do this will improve planning accuracy by 20% or more for specific categories and uncover the times and geographies where demand is projected to be higher and more merchandise should be allocated. By weather-adjusting inventories ahead of the season, retailers increase revenue by reducing lost sales. At the same time, companies decrease the costs associated with over-stocking in situations where demand will fail to match last year’s levels.

In-season, grocers and other retailers with fast turning categories utilise weather-driven demand projections that account for forecasted weather conditions over the next week or two. Weather informed replenishment adjusts store-level demand forecasts to reflect how demand will be changing rather than simply restocking locations based on recent or historical sales trends. Just because the weather deflated demand in a location last week, doesn’t mean it will do so again this week. In this scenario, sales get missed because the weather has all of the sudden produced a bump in demand and there is not enough product available.


How can weather-driven demand insights help retailers during the Christmas trading season?

Broadly speaking, November will present a challenging “weather comp” for retailers looking to move seasonal items. Winter apparel (coats, knitwear, boots, etc.) and other cold weather categories (hot beverages, comfort foods, heaters, etc.) received a nice assist from the weather a year ago. November 2019 was the coldest in over 20 years for the UK overall with above average rainfall. However, December should allow for better like-for-like performance as last year’s temperatures were warmer than normal.

Retailers using weather-driven demand insights will have planned for slower seasonal product sales in November but will also have planned to have enough inventory on hand to meet a stronger sales trend in December.

Without this perspective, it is not unusual for retailers to react to lagging year-over-year sales by taking deeper by scaling back stock levels and/or taking deeper markdowns earlier. Should December sales begin to outpace year ago figures due to more positive weather, a gap will open between demand and inventories, resulting in lost sales.

Additionally, retailers using weather analytics as they move through the Christmas season and replenish stores will be able to identify and fill the gaps that could be created due to day-to-day fluctuations in the conditions outside. Recognising and addressing the stock shortages that could arise due to weather-fueled sales spikes will help retailers maximise sales during this critical shopping season.

Read the original article here.


David Frieberg, VP Marketing, Planalytics
+1 610 407 2905 (office)
+1 484 682 7626 (mobile)

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NRF 2021 Retail’s Big Show

Planalytics is sponsoring NRF 2021. To register and get more information on the virtual conference click on the logo above. If you plan to attend the conference, be sure to CLICK HERE and visit Planalytics to gather more information or to schedule a virtual meeting.  Planalytics will be hosting an NRF Interactive Discussion Room on January 19 at 1:30pm-2pm ET.

NOTE: Only 50 retailers can participate and entry will be first come, first served. Contact Planalytics if you are interested in participating and we’ll send you a calendar invitation.

Add to Calendar

If you are interested in learning more or arranging a time for an online meeting during the conference please contact

View additional event info here. 

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Spoiler alert! Replenishing based on prior demand is shrinking your profit

Grocery Dive
By: Planalytics

Up to 5% of a grocer’s sales are lost to shrink in perishables as over-inventoried stores are forced to throw out spoiled and unsaleable products.

Shoppers make purchasing decisions because the weather is affecting their meal preferences or the forecasted weather is affecting their upcoming plans, activities, and events. Sales are typically most sensitive to weather changes in produce, meat, and other fresh departments.

Weather-driven demand analytics reduce shrink/waste costs by 10-35% when replenishment volumes at the critical item/store/day level are adjusted for stores where unfavorable conditions will lead to reduced sales.

In a quickly evolving landscape in which the move to online purchasing is accelerating ever faster, the fresh departments around the perimeter of the store remain a key asset and growth vehicle for supermarkets. Research shows that perimeter department sales growth is two to three times the rate of center of the store, so it is an area food retailers are focused on and where the desire to avoid lost sales is the strongest. And perishables continue to be one of the primary reasons a shopper wants to go into a store, with quality, selection, and availability being key differentiators that drive loyalty to a specific store or retail chain.

The challenge, as always, is finding the right balance between having enough product on the shelves to meet customer expectations without needlessly increasing inventory costs. With the additional factor of shrink in the fresh equation, getting this balancing act is even more important.

Profiting on Perishables: Shrinking Shrink with a Better Demand Forecast

Grocery retailers generally acknowledge that the weather has an impact on consumer demand, affecting everything from overall traffic levels to the sales of specific products. Ahead of a warm and pleasant weekend, a shopper may plan to barbeque and put steaks, burgers, or hot dogs in their cart. Hot and humid conditions may make salads or fresh fruit more appealing. A turn towards chillier conditions may mean that ingredients for soups or stews find their way onto the weekly shopping list (while at the same time, the previously mentioned products are left on the shelf).

Recognizing that the weather matters because it changes consumer shopping behavior is an important “start”, but improving profit can only be achieved when weather impacts – both negative and positive – are quantified and leveraged to make demand forecasts more accurate.

When grocers integrate Planalytics’ weather-driven demand analytics into replenishment systems – whether traditional or ML/AI-based solutions – and volumes are either adjusted higher to take advantage of an upcoming sales spike or adjusted lower to account for a dip in sales, the profit impact is immediate, measurable and significant – and requires no weather impact interpretation on their part.

For example, one grocery chain that works with Planalytics was seeing elevated shrink costs in pre-packaged salads when unfavorable conditions depressed demand.

• Prior to incorporating weather analytics, stores could end up with too much inventory in one week because replenishment forecasts based volumes on sales trends that had been strong in recent weeks or the prior year.

• By ingesting weather-driven demand analytics into their replenishment system, volumes were trimmed for stores that would be experiencing a negative weather impact.

• In one week for just this one category, the retailer was able to reduce perishable shrink by over $110,000 without hurting availability and risking lost sales.

It is important to note that using raw meteorological forecast data is not sufficient. While some businesses initially try this approach, it quickly becomes apparent how challenging it is to effectively integrate temperatures, precipitation amounts, etc. into demand forecasts, replenishment solutions, and data warehouses. Even today’s ML/AI technologies that rely on weather data alone do not come close to matching the accuracy improvement generated by weather-driven demand analytics.

The opportunity to grow profit is very real and very achievable. When weather-driven demand adjustments are implemented at scale across hundreds of categories around a store’s various perishable departments, the bottom line returns add up quickly. Utilizing weather analytics to proactively optimize inventories as demand patterns change presents grocers with an effective and endlessly repeatable tactic (after all, the weather never stops changing) for shrinking shrink in fresh categories.

“Waste Not, Want Not” – Using Weather Analytics to Improve KPIs

Higher customer satisfaction and loyalty levels, increasing sales and market share in high margin categories, reducing shrink costs on short shelf-life products, and other key corporate objectives can be served by better understanding and operationally addressing the weather’s influence on consumer demand.

Analyzing past sales to understand exactly when, where, and how much the weather affects a product’s sales is the starting point. Going forward, knowing how weather-sensitive sales are for any given product by location and time period provides replenishment processes and systems with informed adjustments that correctly balance availability with shrink.

These demand forecast accuracy improvements ultimately translate into lower perishable shrink costs:

• For fruit, typical waste savings are 10% to 25%

• For vegetables, typical waste savings are 10% to 30%

• For meats, typical waste savings are 20% to 35%

Grocers would be hard pressed to find a more direct and rapid way than the incorporation of weather analytics to improve KPIs tied to optimizing store-level fresh inventories.

Learn more by downloading Planalytics’ Factoring the Weather into Grocery Demand Shifts.

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