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Back to Blog June 15, 2018

Heatwave stops retailers from feeling the heat as sales soar

The British high street has been standing in the line of fire in recent times. Indeed, you could even say that some retailers have been left feeling like sitting ducks, as a seemingly constant barrage of bad news, poor figures and gloomy predictions about the future, continues to hit them.

Retailers have definitely been feeling the heat but the recent heatwave, which has seen sales soaring, has offered some welcome relief.

There has always been a direct correlation between the weather and retail performance on the high street. Going back to the spring, the hottest April day in 70 years was recorded. On that day, Waitrose reported a 400% increase in sales of sun cream and a 270% rise in sales of barbecue food.

Indeed, a rise in temperature of only just a few degrees can see marked shifts in buying patterns – and with the recent hot weather, there have been huge positive shifts. Barbecue food, ice lollies, ice cubes, garden furniture, sun cream, and summer clothes – all these products (and many more) have seen a healthy spike in sales since the spring.

April alone saw Argos report a 150% jump in garden seating sales. High street fashion retailers didn’t miss out either, as footfall was boosted by a healthy 15% increase. Back in the digital world, online leaders, Asos, saw a whopping 16,000 sunglasses sold in just 4 days, not to mention a 60% rise in sales of shorts.

Retailers have to take the rough with the smooth

 

Of course, the impact of the weather on retail can work both ways. April was great, but March was nothing short of a disaster; even worse than the most pessimistic of analysts had predicted. The mini-heatwave in April provided the retail industry with a vital shot in the arm. However, overall, this was not enough to offset the disappointing figures of the previous month.

However, a combination of factors has seen positive sales figures continue through the spring and into mid-July. Firstly, the weather in May and early June was better, generally, that is the norm. Next, big events such as the royal wedding and the World Cup have helped to create a mood of celebration – especially with the England football team’s longer-than-expected stay in the competition. Coinciding with the World Cup, of course, has been another record-breaking heatwave.

 

The latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed that total sales for June increased by 2.3%. This compares to an increase of 2% in June 2017. But while food and drink retailers benefitted greatly, other household categories did not enjoy such a boom.

That said, the focus of sales figures and analysis often centres on the major names of the high street. However, the combined effect of World Cup fever and the heatwave has been felt by smaller retailers too.

Woodfield Stores in Shrewsbury reported a 20% spike in overall sales. Similar increases will have been seen up and down the country.

Of course, it is vital that retailers are able to convert sales into profit. This is getting harder and harder to due to structural changes the sector is going through.

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