You’ve Got to Love This Weather (But Some Retailers Don’t)
It’s February 22 and it’s going to be nearly 60 degrees today in New Jersey. Many of us here in the Northeast are loving it. I mean, I’ve only had to pick up a snow shovel once since winter began. It seems the least Mother Nature could do for us after record snows last winter followed by a hurricane, flooding and, oh yeah, a big snowstorm on Halloween weekend that cut off power to communities all over the region for days and even weeks.
But on to the purpose of this discussion: what the mild winter has meant for retailers.
On one hand, it has meant that consumers have been able to get to stores unimpeded. That’s good. People do most of their shopping in stores so access is key.
On the other hand, mild weather has not driven any of the pantry-loading frenzy that normally comes with an impending storm. One of my favorite retail moments ever came while working at a local Trader Joe’s a day before a storm hit (six inches). When one of the crew saw customers getting worked up, he got on the intercom and said (paraphrasing), "Attention Trader Joe’s customers. We love having you shop our store. It’s only a snowstorm. You’ve seen these before and done just fine. Please have a nice day." (Customers all over the store began laughing, as did all the crew.)
A number of retailers have not done well as products such as winter clothing and footwear have languished. Stores have resorted to cutting prices to move inventory.
"The reality is that we are ‘buy-now, use-now’ consumers," Paul Walsh, VP-weather analytics at The Weather Channel, told Advertising Age. "When it comes to weather and driving demand, timing is everything. … By the time you get to President’s Day, it’s all about spring."
Other retailers, notably Home Depot, have benefited greatly from the mild winter as homeowners and construction professionals have not had to shut down projects due to inclement weather.
- New Jersey Weather Forecast – NJ.com
- Warm Weather Puts Chill on Brands’ Winters – Advertising Age
- Home Depot Profit Beats Analysts’ Estimates on Warm Weather – Bloomberg News/San Francisco Chronicle
Discussion Questions: On balance, do you think more moderate temperatures have been a net positive or negative for retailers this winter? What would you do as a retailer being negatively affected by warm winter weather this year?