Is a cool wind about to blow in favor of retailers?
"Unfavorable weather conditions negatively impacted sales" is a phrase often used by retailers trying to explain away weaker-than-expected sales results. And while it seems like just an excuse to mask other issues, sometimes there is validity to the reasoning.
This summer, a number of retailers and analysts blamed tepid sales and traffic over the early summer weeks on an unusually cooler and wetter late spring and early summer. For some, the weather truly could have been a headwind.
Retailers set their inventories months ahead, so when atypical weather occurs, seasonal merchandise can sit on shelves until prices are slashed. "Good weather" means higher margins for retailers, and happier shareholders.
But weather patterns change, and a cool August may provide retailers with a tailwind heading into fall (though retailers are less likely to give credit where credit is due when the scenario is reversed).
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"I think cool weather does drive a mindset towards back-to-school, and I think it actually will be beneficial to back-to-school sales, even though back-to-school sales aren't directly weather impacted," said Paul Walsh, vice president of weather analytics for The Weather Channel.