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Blame the Weather – In Retail You Can


In retail there are so many factors that can affect footfall and sales, along with the fundamentals, such as offering a positive in-store experience, well-trained sales staff to a seamless omni-channel experience. There are external factors such as payday, a popular public event and even the weather. Yes, the weather cannot only affect what retailers sell and when they sell it but how many customers they get through the door that day.

Look no further than our current nemesis the “Beast from the East” followed by Storm Emma. It comes as no surprise that such chilly and stormy weather has kept shoppers indoors and their wallets closed. That is unless retailers include capable online options that allow customers to browse from the comfort of their own homes.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director of Springboard, comments:

“The impact on shopper activity of the “Beast from the East” is clear to see, with a noticeable drop in footfall across UK retail destinations of -11.8% on Tuesday compared with a rise of +5.2% on Sunday when the weather was cold but dry and clear. Indeed, the impact of the impending weather on footfall was seen as early as Monday when it declined by -0.6% across the UK. And there is a clear regional variance, demonstrating the weathers impact on the east of the UK which has been the worst hit so far; a drop in footfall in the East of -16.3% and -11.1% in Scotland on Tuesday compared with just -2.8% in the South West and a rise of +6.5% in Northern Ireland.  As the ferocious weather moves westwards over the next few days, we anticipate that footfall in the South West and Wales will worsen substantially.”

The statistics speak for themselves, so what is a retailer to do when bad weather brings the high street to a halt? While long-term weather forecasts can give some direction they are not entirely reliable therefore retailers need to be flexible and react quickly with front of store merchandise. While March is the time to display Spring/Summer collections it is always advisable, with the UK’s unpredictable weather, to include some warmer options that tie-in with the season’s key styles. For most retailers it literally is about riding the storm, so to speak, and ensuring their online offer is consistently strong and enticing.

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