Introducing The Forecast Factor Blog

Prior to IBM acquiring The Weather Company one of the part-time roles I played was as an on-air (and I use this term loosely) “expert” on The Weather Channel and

You may remember me from such Weather Channel segments as The Forecast Factor with Paul Walsh or The Business Barometer with Paul Walsh.

Or maybe not. Or probably not. Or almost certainly not.

Never-the-less — I’m that guy.

And as part of the gig I spent nearly every Sunday morning at 07:20 and 09:20 eastern time doing a live segment, via Skype on The Weather Channel’s AMHQ Weekend show.

What no one saw was the fact I was almost certainly not wearing long pants when I was doing the interviews and my poor wife was trying to sleep in the next room.

After a couple of years (and being acquired by IBM) my friends at The Weather Channel decided to go in a different direction and I no longer needed to wake up every Sunday at 6 AM to re-boot my computer and do sound checks and put on a shirt and tie (but not pants!).

It was nice to have that time back, but, I’d gotten used to the routine and it was a helpful exercise to frame out interesting and consumable weather and consumer related stories that I could use as part of my current day job.

I decided shortly after stopping doing the segments that it might be a good idea to continue creating and sharing this content on my own using the technology at hand.

It’s taken me the better part of a year, but here it is.

Introducing The Forecast Factor blog, a labor of love where I can “unite my avocation and vocation” (see below) and where I’ll be sharing my thoughts and observations on the impact of weather on consumers and business.

This is my personal site and so, as the managing editor, I may choose to include off-topic (and possibly off-color) subjects periodically.benjismile

I will most certainly include photos of my assistant editor, Benji.

If you’re interested in getting updates you can subscribe HERE at the bottom of the page.


Two Tramps in Mud Time

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.


My Weekly Weather Means Business Tweet Storm

Welcome to the very first edition of what I’m tentatively calling my weekly “weather means business” tweet storm.

As a matter of course I closely follow press reports and the twitter-verse for weather and business related content.  It’s my thing. It’s what I do.

My plan is to regularly collate my favorite stories and publish them here.

The goal is to post this every weekend but, since this is purely a labor of love and my weekend priorities are often not mine, it may be every weekend-ish.

At any rate, welcome to the first edition and feel free to reach out with questions or comments or, even better, links to great stories that I can include.

McDonalds Buys AI Tech (Note: Watch this Space!)

“It can know time of day, it can know weather. We can also have it understand what our service times are so it only suggests items that are easier to make in our peak hours,” said McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook.

The ultimate aim was to provide a “much more personalised experience” and to be able to suggest additional items based on the customer’s initial order, he added.

Also see — McDonalds Leverages IBM Watson Advertising to Drive In-Store Visits 

Retailers come in from the cold

Relatively mild weather and a very easy comparison combined to help drive an “unexpected’ spike in March retail sales in the UK.

I discussed this in my blog post last month:

Record February UK Warmth: Retail Boon or Fool’s Spring?

My guess at this point is that the “unexpected spike” in retail spending is in large part the result of the easy comparison to last year and the record warmth at the end of February which provided a tail wind into March.

The late Easter and very warm temperatures this week will help overcome the difficult comparison to last year and continue the strong sales trend in April.

But, the May / June weather comps may prove tougher sledding as retailers will have to overcome last year’s weather-driven sales surge.

U.S retail sales soared in March 

Weather wasn’t just driving sales in the UK, US retail sales “soared” in March also.

And again, I think this is at least partially due to the combination of a relatively easy comparison to March last year and a rebound from the terrible weather in February.

The March sales trend is another very strong tell that’s signaling a very positive April retail sales environment.

See: Expected Milder Spring a Godsend for U.S. Retail