How weather affects shopping and retail

Retail Gets Real Episode 292: Planalytics’ Evan Gold on how retailers can prepare for extreme weather events

Retailers may not be able to control the weather, but they can plan for it, according to Planalytics’ Evan Gold.

“There are things that businesses can do to better prepare for the impact that weather’s going to have. The first is understanding what demand signal that’s going to trigger in the customer,” says Gold, executive vice president of global partnerships and alliances for the weather analytics firm, on this week’s episode of Retail Gets Real.

“Weather is the most local impact in terms of what we do on a day-in and day-out basis and therefore, it impacts retailers and a lot of national retailers that have the ability to move product to certain places at certain time periods.”

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Geography and tolerance for bad weather also play a part in how consumers shop and what they buy, Gold says. “It’s different not only for every product, but it’s different by time period and location,” he says. “You get an inch of snow in parts of the south like Atlanta, it can shut the city down. Versus an inch of snow in a place like Minneapolis, which can actually put customers in a winter mindset and then they are out doing that holiday shopping. They’re going to be buying more gifts like boots or sweaters or jackets and gloves.”

This winter will be colder than previous years, according to Gold, which will likely drive up prices for cold weather items like heaters and blankets. “But all types of cold-weather apparel like jackets, thermals, sweaters, and then consumables like hand and body lotion, chili, soup, hot coffee and cocoa — all of those are up single-digit percentages on a year-over-year base,” he says.

“Mother Nature’s providing a gift for a lot of businesses where you’re seeing a lot of cold over the next couple weeks, which is going to drive a lot of that need-based [shopping],” Gold says.

Listen to the full podcast to hear more from Gold on how the weather influenced shopping patterns this fall and holiday season and how retailers can plan ahead for extreme weather events.

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