November is traditionally a month where the holiday shopping season ramps up as the countdown to Christmas begins, and falling temperatures and increasing snowfall thrust consumers into the holiday spirit. The weather has a big impact on retail sales and store traffic as we head into the holiday season. Let's take a look at how the weather trended during November 2019:
Temperatures for the U.S. as a whole were warmer than last year but this was the 6th coldest November in the past 28+ years. The first half of November was colder than normal across the Central and Eastern U.S., while the West trended warmer until the final week of the month which was much colder.
Warmer weather than last year will have resulted in softer seasonal merchandise sales year-on-year. We've quantified the relationship between changes in weather with changes in sales with our Power of 1 Degree® technology. Seasonal categories, like jackets and boots, likely saw a 4% drop in sales due to weather and a 10% drop in sales for fire logs, and greater declines for more volatile categories, like heaters. There were favorable periods in November when cold weather items will have fared better, including in the Central and Eastern U.S. in the first half of the month and in the West towards the end of November. Retailers that capitalized on these more favorable periods will have seen stronger sales.
November 2019 overall was the 9th driest November in 28+ years for the U.S. as a whole with much drier weather in the first half of the month. However, the third week of the month (week-ending November 23rd) brought unsettled weather with flash flooding in the Southwest. Unsettled weather continued in the West through the end of the month with several storms, including a very potent storm that moved onshore in Oregon, and a storm in the Southwest over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Wetter weather around the Thanksgiving weekend will have been a headwind for store traffic, the exception was on the East Coast which saw relatively dry weather through most of the weekend. The weather turned less favorable in the Northeast on the Sunday after Thanksgiving but luckily this is typically the slowest store traffic day of the weekend.
While the Northeast and South Central U.S. saw much less snow than a very snowy November 2018, the U.S. as a whole saw the most snow in 19 years. November snowfall culminated in the final week of the month, which was the snowiest in 28 years for the U.S. as a whole, with several storms moving across the nation, including heavy snow from the Rockies to the Great Lakes.
Snowier weather can be a double-edged sword for retailers in November as snowy weather helps to get consumers in the holiday spirit but can negatively impact store traffic. Certain seasonal merchandise will have seen an increase in sales prior to a snow storm, including shovels and ice scrapers. Snowy weather in the northern Plains and Rocky Mountains during the week of Thanksgiving will have been a headwind for holiday shopping traffic, while less snow than last year in the Northeast will have been favorable for store traffic. Much less snow than last year for the month overall in the Northeast and South Central U.S. will have translated into fewer store traffic disruptions, but softer sales of snow removal categories.
With warmer but snowier weather than last year in November 2019, the impact on your business may have varied throughout the month, but how do you plan for such weather? That's where Weathertrends360 can help! With Weathertrends360's proprietary year-ahead forecast model and predictive weather analytics, we can help you plan proactively for the weather. Our passion is Better Business in any Weather®
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