2014 saw an unusually warm autumn in the UK, with temperatures of up to 21°C over halloween. Last week, Primark became the latest retail giant to blame the unseasonable weather for low sales performance, with Next, M&S and the Arcadia group already claiming the weather has impacted sales. With snow and ice warnings recently issued in the north of England, understanding the imact of weather changes on your sales will be key over the coming weeks.
Impact of weather on retail sales
When looking at the UK retail market as a whole against temperature variations there isn’t a significant correlation. However, temperature can have a notable positive and negative effect on sales for certain products at different times of the year. The popularity of items such as coats, jumpers, sledges, heaters, fans and paddling pools is largely driven by weather.
Retail sales and UK mean temperatures relative to 1971-2000 average, 2003-2013
Source: Office of National Statistics
Let’s take electric blankets as an example.
We measured the sales performance of electric blankets over a 4 year period, and what we found was extremely interesting.
As little as 10% change in temperature can improve conversion rate of electric blankets by 100%.
Feeding real time weather information into our marketing campaigns helps us make informed decisions about our optimisation strategy, enabling our clients to capitalise on even the smallest of weather changes.
How can retailers react to external weather events?
- Understand how your customers’ buying behaviour varies
- Identify if any behavioural changes are circumstances of specific weather conditions or just part of a seasonal pattern
- Measure the change in customer behaviour to understand how traffic, conversion rate, sales and revenue are affected under these conditions
- Develop a model over a period of time based on historical performance
- Optimise your site and marketing campaigns aligned to forecast sales performance