April Showers Bring Online Customers: How Spring Weather Impacts Sales (& What You Can Do to Prepare)
We all know that the weather can have a major impact on retail sales, but few of us understand exactly why it happens. Good news is, you can leverage the fluctuations in Spring weather to augment sales and increase customer loyalty in your retail store. Before you can do this, however, you need to learn how to use the weather forecast to modify your marketing efforts and in-store operations. This goes deeper than just understanding the basics. Sure, seasonal weather changes still enhance the sales of same-season goods, but the weather’s impact on sales is also influenced by factors such as your store’s location, the time of year, whether you have a physical store or sell online, and the category of goods being sold.
Since weather’s impact on retail sales is not as clear as a blue sky on a sunny day, let’s take a look at some of the unexpected factors that influence how the weather will impact your sales with a core look specifically on warmer days and springtime showers.
Don’t Count on Historical Data
Weather data from years prior doesn’t actually give you an accurate representation of what to expect in the coming season. In fact, a recent study by NRF
found that “the weather – and its impact on business – only repeats from one year to the next about 15 percent of the time
.” Instead of using weather data from past years, NRF suggests that you remove weather-based factors from your sales history entirely to achieve more relevant data. This means creating your marketing plan and ordering inventory based on the most current forecast. Since forecasts can be unreliable, this also means planning for variables with alternative advertising blasts and promotions that can be selectively rolled out depending on the elements.
The Impact is Location-Based
Customers react differently to the weather depending on the average temperature and weather variance where your store is located. While it’s important to be in-stock of specific inventory items, what you stock up on specifically will have more to do with how the weather measures up to the average temperature in your brick and mortar locations. For instance, spring weather extremes such as rain or snow are less likely to influence customers in locations where that type of weather is commonplace.
To illustrate how this plays out, check out this excerpt on how Spring weather impacts shopper behavior from RetailDive
:“To shoppers in Boston, temperature anomalies of +6 degrees F above normal max temperatures (~55 degrees F) drive consumers to purchase warm weather products, although this will change throughout the season.In Chicago, this time of year, a +11 degrees F temperature anomaly above ~59 degrees F drives diners to outdoor restaurants or to buy a new spring dress.Meanwhile, in Atlanta, a temperature anomaly of +7 degrees F above normal max temperatures (~70 degrees F) puts a spring in shoppers’ step.”
Online Retailers Aren’t Exempt
If your bread and butter is in ecommerce, it’s important to note that your sales aren’t immune to being influenced by seasonal variances. There’s a huge opportunity for online retailers – as well as physical stores who also sell online – to get a leg-up on the competition by promoting different products depending on the temperature variance where the ad is being aired. With temperature-activated online and social media ads, you can start to use weather-based changes in consumer preferences to your advantage. In fact, NRF
reports that by taking advantage of warm weather to promote certain products in specific areas, an online retailer increased featured product sales by 267 percent. So, if you’re an online-only retailer or do any
of your sales online, consider differentiating your brand by offering weather-based promotions in your target areas. Another tip? Plan in advance since the weather can be surprising. Have social media promotions, graphics, and email marketing campaigns ready to send for rainy days, surprisingly sunny days and everything in between.
By refining how you prepare your store for seasonal weather variances you can augment sales and attract new customers by giving your marketing initiatives a personal, localized feel…even if you’re an online-only retailer. The catch? Be prepared – even when the weather and your customers take you by surprise.
Take advantage of ASD Market Week’s 90+ free retail strategy sessions this July 29-August 1, 2018 in Las Vegas.
By Jasmine Glasheen, RetailMinded.com