Retailers bemoaning “unseasonable” weather may need a reality check » SMEInsider

Retailers bemoaning “unseasonable” weather may need a reality check

What lovely weather we’re having! Or are we? High street clothing shops might be quick to blame their falling profits on an usually warm October… but actually, it’s not that warm at all.

Next and Superdry are the latest retailers to issue full year profit guidance, attributing drops in sales to unseasonable weather beyond their control. Both have suffered blows to their share price as a result.

But, while 2012 might have been a bit nippy, October temperatures in Britain have actually averaged 11.2°C since 1995. That puts this month’s average (11°C) at just below what you might expect for this time of year – and it’s certainly cooler than last year, when temperatures hovered around the 12.5°C mark.

Overall, the Met Office figures do show a worrying trend of rising temperatures over the past 50 years that is consistent with global warming. However, looked at as an average, these increases don’t seem extreme or sudden enough to impact on year-on-year garment purchases in the British Isles.

So why are people buying fewer winter clothes? Perhaps it’s less to do with the overall temperature and more to do with when the sunniest days have fallen.

Average temperatures might be normal, but there have been some pretty broad extremes. The coldest, wettest, most miserable days of the month have mostly been on weekdays, when most potential buyers are tucked away in their offices, schools and so forth.

Meanwhile, we’ve had a spate of sunny weekends with temperatures hitting a summery 18°C, meaning that the times when people are out enjoying themselves and, more importantly, buying their clothes haven’t exactly led them to opt for coats and woolly jumpers.

What this means is that, while retailers pushing cosy autumnal garments have been a bit out of luck, it’s not that the whole month has been “unseasonably warm”. Those that want to stay ahead will have to work a bit harder to capture their market consistently during the month – and maybe think of smarter marketing ideas that respond fast to inconsistent weather.