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Unseasonal weather makes retailers sweat

David J Smith

Over the past couple of years, it seems we have become used to extremes of weather at both appropriate and inappropriate times.

Over the past couple of years, it seems we have become used to extremes of weather at both appropriate and inappropriate times. First there was the ‘BBQ summer’ of 2009 when it rained continually, followed by 2010’s coldest December on record, and more recently the 30C heat of October.

While a sweltering day in October can be considered a positive thing in many ways, it is certainly not useful for clothing retailers looking to promote autumn ranges. The impact can lead to expensive seasonal marketing campaigns across print and screen having little effect when consumers are still wearing their summer clothes. The mild autumn weather has exacerbated the tough times being experienced by many retailers due to the economic downturn.

In these times of uncertainty it would be helpful for the industry if the weather followed a more predictable pattern, but there is no evidence it will. Many retailers are now preparing for a repeat of last year’s harsh winter, but that is far from guaranteed.

Even if a seasonal range does not sell well, the global market of the internet offers plenty of opportunities for maximising return on stocks.

When the UK’s hot weather season ends, the availability of markets in different climates means retailers have the potential for selling summer stock in another region. So if one season disappoints, other regions may be found to be more reliable elsewhere on the planet.

We are now nearing what will be the peak online Christmas trading period. IMRG is forecasting that £3.75bn will be spent in the peak activity weeks of November 28 and December 5.

While of course this is only an estimate, we do expect our forecast to be more dependable than the weather.

  • David J Smith is chief marketing and communications officer at etail trade body IMRG

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