British retailers are braced for a £320m “warm weather” hit to their coffers next month, as higher temperatures melt projected profits.
According to a report published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), warmer weather in September could cost non-food retailers £80m per week.
Based on a Met Office analysis of weather data, it argues that there is a “clear relationship” between temperature and retail sales.
The impact is strongest from mid-August to early October, when warmer weather delays the purchase of autumn-winter ranges.
Over that period, for each degree warmer it is than the previous year, growth in sales is reduces by 1.1 percent – equivalent to around £40m per week – according to the BRC.
However, this summer has seen temperatures on average two degrees higher which, if it continues into September, will see traders hit twice as hard.
Rachel Lund, the BRC’s head of insight and analytics, said: “While few in the retail industry would deny that the weather impacts how we shop, the fact that this study reveals that its impact can be large and changeable only serves to highlight some of the complexity retailers have to navigate in serving consumers.
“The ability to understand and respond to unseasonable weather is clearly crucial for retailers wanting to thrive in today’s extremely competitive retail market.”
However, the report also says that in the long term, sales lost to unseasonable weather are largely recovered once temperatures normalise.
Impacts also differ across product categories, with clothing and footwear sales negatively affected by warmer temperatures in the autumn, while women’s clothing sales are boosted by higher temperatures in the spring.
Malcolm Lee, weather analytics manager for the Met Office, said: “Analyses of this type can’t predict ‘boom or bust’ for the high street based on our weather forecasts, but can offer business insight into how weather has impacted on sales in previous years.
“This research shows that for certain product lines at certain times of year, sales growth is strongly influenced by the weather.”
Forecasters expect warm weather to linger, with above average temperatures predicted during a dry and warm September.