The Weather Company released their spring forecast yesterday and the news for consumer businesses is … great!
“After an extended cold period across much of the Northern U.S. during the last month, the pattern finally appears to be relenting as we head into spring,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company.
I wrote a post on the potential for this back in January.
Given the latest update I thought I’d re-up the message as the stars are aligning to produce a bigger than normal weather-driven boost to this year’s spring retail season.
For most retailers in the U.S. the fiscal year starts in February with the spring quarter spanning February through April.
Along with the third quarter (August – October) the spring quarter is the most exposed to weather volatility and hits to profits.
For context, last April was the 13th coldest in the U.S. in 124 years of history.
That coincided with a very early Easter (week 5 March) and it had the effect of essentially kiboshing the normal first quarter Easter sales stimulus.
So there’s four key reasons the late winter polar vortex this year will likely be a boon for spring retail:
- An incredibly easy weather comparison to last year.
- Cabin fever. It’s been a late winter with a colder than normal February and first half of March. When the weather breaks consumers will be breaking out, and spending. It happens every year and it will likely happen 3 or 4 weeks earlier this year.
- A later Easter means a longer pre-holiday selling period with weather conditions that will be much milder than last year. More time to shop due to the earlier break to spring weather means more money in the cash register.
- The weather impact is greater than ever due to the combined effect of better forecasting, mobile access to more accurate forecasts and the synergistic impact of social media (weather is nearly always a number one topic on social — it even trumps sex).
When you combine all four elements — easy comp, earlier break, later Easter and the increased impact of weather on consumers — it adds up to a very silver lining for US retail this spring.