In The News


Extreme Weather Complicating Life for Retailers

By Evan Clark 

Unexpected changes in the mercury can keep shoppers away – or send them rushing to stores.

. . . Weather changes have always been part of the picture for retail, but it’s all become more volatile lately and harder for retail to navigate, where big storms and other weather events can both give and take.

Evan Gold, Executive Vice President of Global Partnership and Alliances at Planalytics, which quantifies how weather impacts businesses, said last week, “Next week almost 90 percent of the markets in the U.S. are going to dip below freezing.”

“It’s not totally uncommon for this time of year, but still, as warm as it’s been, that’s going to change some consumer purchasing,” Gold said. “We had a very warm fall. November and December were also – there were pockets of cold – but for the most part, [the holiday season] was warm.”

On one hand, the cold weather will keep shoppers away.

“Overall foot traffic is dipping for most businesses,” he said. “We see a 5 to 10 percent decline in [retail foot] traffic this week and next week.”

But those shoppers who are coming in are on a mission.

“Anything that needs to be cleared for winter, like boots, gloves, sweaters – they’re all up double digits, easy, last week, this week, next week for sure,” he said. “The opportunity is to get to clear it and potentially to clear it at a higher margin now than you might if you waited a couple weeks.”

To keep up with the changes in weather, retailers have to stay agile and be ready to move and react quickly – or be content to be more prepared and less efficient.

“The winners, regardless of what sector you’re in, are those that are doing everything they can to just to better serve their customer or better serve their community,” Gold said. “Whether it’s a significant extreme event like flooding or just making sure they have enough heaters for when it gets below freezing for people at night.”

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