GUEST AUTHOR: It is common knowledge that the weather impacts sales. A report by the British Retail Consortium published earlier this year suggested that differences in temperature are a reliable predictor of growth for non-food sales.
In fact, according to research by the Met Office, nearly 50 per cent of retailers in the UK consider the weather to be one of the top three external drivers of consumer demand.
Sales can be affected by both an increase and a decrease in temperatures and Britain’s unpredictable recent weather has seen consumers hitting the high streets in the hunt for spontaneous, seasonal purchases.
During the 2018 summer heatwave Waitrose saw a jump of 11.8 per cent in sales, boosted by demand for barbecue essentials and picnic food. The warm weather also increased the demand for paddling pools, with retailers such as Tesco selling out completely online.
When the Beast from the East hit in March this year, bringing with it sub-zero temperatures and snow storms, sledge suppliers and pubs were amongst the businesses to emerge as the winners, whilst other companies suffered disruption as a result of the extreme weather conditions.
Phillip Kay, owner of Toys 'n' Things in Cardiff, hit the headlines by hailing the snowstorm ‘a miracle’ when his shop sold over 1,800 sledges in just a few days, while The Entertainer was reported to have sold more sledges in one week than the previous five years put together.
With winter well and truly on its way, experts are predicting yet more extreme weather for the UK. Meteorologists have confirmed that this winter could be the coldest yet, with early indications that the country is set for up to four months of snow, caused by air from the Arctic and Atlantic clashing above Britain. So what does this mean for retailers?
Managing stock levels for unpredictable weather conditions
Consumer behaviour expert, Philip Graves, who specialises in buying behaviours, offers his insight into the effect the weather has on consumer mentality: “A lot of shopping behaviour is driven by habit.
"We make many purchases on auto-pilot because it saves us having to waste mental energy making decisions. However, when the weather takes a significant turn we are shaken out of those buying patterns and new needs and desires drive our purchases.
“Allied to this is the powerful influence that seeing what other people are buying has on our own decision-making. If we see other people wearing particular seasonal clothes, carrying a particular purchase or having fun using it - we are considerably more likely to want to buy it ourselves.
“The final element in the perfect consumer storm, if you’ll forgive the pun, is the fear of missing out on the fun. This is especially the case when the weather has taken a dramatic, unexpected turn. This tips us away from being cautious with our spending because we are more concerned about feeling bad after missing out on a special experience than we are about the cost of the product.”
Commenting on this pattern, Damian Hall, sales director at Mookie Toys, adds: “The weather has a huge impact on buyer mentality and is something that must be considered as part of a business’s strategy. As Britain’s only manufacturer, we offer unrivalled turnaround times without compromising on quality. This is something that we are very proud of.
“However, early weather indicators and reports from top meteorologists point towards the likelihood of significant amounts of snow this winter. For this reason, we are expecting unprecedented demand for seasonal products like sledges. We have put together a Winter Survival Pack with fantastic margins for retailers. We advise retailers to consider their requirements early and plan ahead for snow to avoid disappointment.”
For more information on the range, please visit www.mookie.co.uk