The effects of weather on retailers

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Unseasonal or extreme weather often prompts speculation regarding its effects on business. Recently, several UK retailers posted disappointing results which a number of media outlets were quick to link to unfavourable weather conditions. However, upon closer inspection, several other factors need to be taken into consideration.Considering all FactorsJJB Sports reported an 8.7 per cent slump in first-half sales for 2012. Although this period did coincide with particularly poor weather, it also took place in the midst of a deluge of warnings that the UK was heading into another recession and a relatively disappointing performance from England’s football team. It would not be unreasonable to suggest that the former negatively impacted the nation’s level of discretionary spend, and the latter the sales of branded sporting goods – especially as much of JJB’s in-store advertising featured the England team.Similarly, a retailer of baby-related goods reported a drop in sales of 6.7 per cent for the quarter ending June 2012. The media again attributed the disappointing results to poor weather conditions, despite additional data suggesting a relatively low overall birth-rate, for the same period.Focusing on What WorksBased on the above examples, it would seem that reports linking poor retail performance with weather conditions are not looking at the full picture. Many news articles which draw a connection between two often only base their reasoning on snapshots of data and use weather as the single variable factor.It is highly unlikely that weather conditions are the sole (or even key) contributory factor behind some of the poor results currently emerging from the retail sector. Businesses would be advised to focus on the traditional approach of minimising costs through effective supply chain management and innovative product strategies if they are to weather the storm.

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