The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has suggested that warmer weather through September 2018 could well impact upon non-food retail sales for the month. The BRC feels likely impacts could well result in total turnover cuts of around £80mn weekly. 

About the BRC statement

The BRC issued their dire warning in a report published jointly with the Met Office. They concluded that there is a “clear relationship” between weather conditions/temperature and retail sales.

The BRC goes on to comment that this impact on sales due to warmer weather can be much stronger from around the middle of August into October, as consumers tend to delay purchasing from autumn-winter ranges. It’s highlighted that throughout these few weeks, a one-degree increase in temperature over the previous year results in sales reductions of 1.1%, which is equivalent to £40mn weekly.

So far in 2018, average summer temperatures have been about two degrees higher than in 2017, so if this weather condition continues non-food retailers can expect to take a total hit of around £80mn weekly.

Most of the fashion retailers on the high street have already experienced a wide range of challenges through 2018. The cold weather spell caused by the “Beast from the East” meant shoppers deserted city centres for quite a while, and changing consumer shopping habits, high retail rents and the inadequacy of online retail operations mean many of the top retailers are already preparing for a sluggish autumn demand for seasonal clothing.

The retailers most likely to be impacted by warmer weather in September are in the clothing and footwear sector. However, it’s important to note that when warmer than average temperatures are experienced in spring months, sales figures for women’s clothing can be boosted tremendously.

Rachel Lund is the head of insight and analytics at the BRC, and she comments: “While few in the retail industry would deny that the weather impacts how we shop, the fact that this study reveals that its impact can be large and changeable only serves to highlight some of the complexity retailers have to navigate in serving consumers. The ability to understand and respond to unseasonable weather is clearly crucial for retailers wanting to thrive in today’s extremely competitive retail market.”

One positive factor the BRC report highlighted is that where retail sales drop due to changeable weather conditions, retailers do tend to experience recovery over the longer term. So, if warmer weather in September does negatively impact bottom line sales figures for fashion retailers, it’s highly likely target sales will bounce back through October and November.

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