Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 30th August 2018
If the weather in the coming weeks proves to be warmer than usual across the UK then high street retailers could see their sales growth slide.
That’s according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which has been investigating the relationship between temperatures and shopping habits throughout the country.
Among the conclusions drawn by the consortium is that the weather has a particularly strong impact on non-food sales and consumer habits during the “summer to autumn transition” phase of the year.
In fact, the BRC’s analysis suggests that rates of growth in non-food sales are reduced by as much as 1.1 per cent for every degree warmer the UK’s weather proves to be during September.
For retailers, that reduction in sales equates to losing out on tens of millions of pounds each week at a time when many high street operators are already struggling to keep their sales numbers moving in a positive direction.
The BRC’s information also suggests that roughly half of all the variation in week to week retail sales nationwide can be attributed to changes in temperature and the weather.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, clothing is the non-food retail category most vulnerable to dips in sales when September and October prove to be unusually warm.
On the plus side for retailers, the weeks running up to Christmas and the final weeks of the year tend to be largely unaffected by temperature variations in any direction.
BRC researchers were also optimistic that reductions in sales growth attributable to weather patterns in the coming weeks could be offset by increases later down the line.
“The study found little evidence that, at an aggregate level, temperature has a permanent impact on sales,” the BRC said in its report on the subject.
“If September is warmer and consumers do not buy as many cold weather products, they spend more on these products once cooler weather finally arrives.”
Nevertheless, retailers are apparently convinced that the weather does have a strong impact on buyer behaviour in the UK, with research by the Met Office in 2015 finding that close to half of all British retailers would count the weather among the top three most important external drivers of consumer demand.