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Finally, a Cheery Holiday Forecast for Retailers

Tuesday, 11 Nov 2008 | 4:58 PM ET

If retailers get sick of blaming the economy for their troubles, there’s always the weather.

But that may be a little more difficult this year for retailers in the East North Central and Southeastern regions of the U.S, according to Planalytics, a consulting firm that tracks business and weather trends. They see some of the most favorable weather trends for retailers in those areas, with cooler weather helping to drive sales of seasonal purchases in those regions.

Retailers across the country should benefit this holiday season from fewer deliveries from Mother Nature, like snowstorms that prevent customers from traveling to stores and malls, Planalytics said.

"Consumers are buying at the point of need, making weather matter more important than ever before," said Scott Bernhardt, chief operating officer of Planalytics.

This played out in October, particularly in the eastern half of the U.S., where sales of electric blankets, firewood, cider, cough and cold medicine and soup benefited from chillier temperatures, compared with the same time last year.

Also, with shoppers hitting the malls less often, retailers need to make the most of every trip. (Not to mention the fact that this holiday season will have the second-shortest number of shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. )

The firm is advising its clients how to best schedule their staff to make the most of the workers they have, which is especially important given that many retailers have hired fewer seasonal employees to help with the Christmas crunch.

What to do when the nasty weather strikes? For retailers with Web sites, it’s time to roll out the email promotions in order to catch customers online.

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