December 10, 2017
December 10, 2017
How does weather affect retail sales?
A long time ago, in a mall far far away, I was running a flagship retail store in the United States premier shopping mall, South Coast Plaza.
It was a couple weeks before Christmas and foot traffic was awfully low for a Saturday afternoon, usually one of the store’s busiest days.
The few people who were shopping seemed to be in a bit of a grinchy mood. My crew was ready for the rush that never happened.
That night when I got home and turned on the TV, I saw the reason why we were so slow: torrential rains had flooded the freeway on-and-off-ramps for hours in the middle of the day, making it virtually impossible to get into the mall.
Weather affects retail all the time but during December, it can be the difference between lights out and lights out ...if you know what I mean.
The Weather Company is predicting below normal temperatures and more precipitation across most of the northern half of the country with warmer than-normal temperatures and less moisture for the southern half for most of the holiday shopping season.
While it’s a no-brainer to think of retail sales going up for ice scrapers and flu relief products at this time of year, less obvious insights from the IBM Holiday Report reveal that soda sales increase during snowy or rainy winters while cold, crisp weather provides an ideal context for pasta consumption.
Which makes sense if you’ve ever had to shovel a driveway in 20 degree windchill; you want feelings of comfort and escape from the elements.
When weather conditions are optimal for in-store shopping, not too cold and not too snowy, smart retailers will encourage shoppers to get out of the comfort of their homes by sending weather-triggered email campaigns. Finding the best email subject lines for retailers isn't that hard.
Some email marketing subject line examples would be:
But when it’s really cold, you’ll want to encourage people to stay home instead of going out to eat – unless, of course, you are a restaurateur reading this.
When it is really cold, you’ll want to talk about customers shopping in their pajamas on your website and leave going out in the slush to you.
Subject line examples for you might be:
You get the idea...
When it comes to milder weather merchandising tips for southern regions, shift your promotions to gifts that aren’t only for winter but that make sense year-round, such as music, electronics, sneakers, and jewelry.
Some examples of subject lines in warmer areas might be:
Weather can also affect scheduling and store operations. The key is to leverage your short-term (5-7-day) local forecast to predict foot traffic and adjust weekly schedules as needed.
Many years ago Portland was socked with a monster snowstorm the week before Christmas. It overwhelmed snow removal crews. All local merchants could do was send out emails and try to get on the news that they were open. Fortunately, there is now another way to get the word out - Facebook.
While I think Facebook LIVE videos are the most underutilized marketing channel for retailers, its immediacy can really help you during the holidays.
The possibilities are endless when your goal is to actively deal with the weather.
We are moving into a new era where the data is shaping the business. Many retailers are now using the power of IBM Watson Commerce and the Weather Company to proactively predict staffing, merchandising, and marketing. Use these tips to leverage the weather in your locale. Technology insights are the new competitive weapon.
You can grab your own copy of the IBM Retail Holiday Playbook here.
This post was sponsored by IBM Watson Commerce.
Sign up for my newsletter today