As many as one in three people in the UK suffer from ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD), sometimes known as ‘winter depression’. It certainly seems to have had an impact on retail figures. After an unseasonably cold March, which saw supermarkets struggling with the number of shoppers declining 6% from last year, the scorching weather last week provided a welcome boost to sales. It was considerably hotter than Spain or Italy for several days, peaking at 28.3C in St. James Park, London – the hottest day recorded in April for 70 years.

Sales increase

Several different supermarkets, including Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, reported enormous sales increases across a range of products. Sun cream sales rose nearly 400% as Britons flocked to the shops in droves to protect themselves from the sweltering temperatures. Burgers and sausage sales were up 270%, and Argos reported doubling sales of disposable BBQs. It seems Britain has been longing for a refreshing beverage in the sun as well as a barbecue – Waitrose reported rosé demand up 54%, and they expect the trend to continue, forecasting a 150% boost in demand for beer over the weekend.

The effect of the heatwave hasn’t been restricted to food. Clothing has also seen a massive jump in sales of summer clothes – Asos reported sales of shorts were up 60% compared to 2017. Over on the high street, Primark sold over 300% more sunglasses than the previous week and Clarks doubled sandals sales.

Back on track

This will be welcome news to retailers, who suffered a disappointing start to the year, including an Easter weekend blighted by rain and poor weather. The huge impact of the heatwave highlights the importance of retailers staying on top of the latest technological trends, harvesting big data to accurately predict consumer trends and the impact of weather.

A spokesperson from Waitrose said: “Our forecasting team closely monitor the weather as a rise in temperature of even just a few degrees will see huge shifts in buying patterns.” IBM’s recent acquisition of The Weather Company indicates the importance the tech world seems to give to this growing field of data science and consumer analytics.

The current heatwave isn’t expected to last much longer, with the BBC reporting temperatures are expected to cool to around 8C by next week. Retailers should be braced for a large impact on sales trends if the sun doesn’t last, and perhaps be prepared to lower their forecasts accordingly.