The Effects of Weather on Retail Sales


Weather is a powerful natural phenomenon and affects many aspects of our lives. Retail businesses are no exception. In fact, the effects of weather on retailers are profound, and different types of weather have different impacts on retailers.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to generalize the impacts of weather. This is due to the fact that businesses are so different from one another, and bad weather for one retailer could actually be good for another. However, it is possible to discuss the probable effects with respect to specific industries.

It almost goes without saying that some products, such as agricultural products are naturally affected by weather conditions. Prices of bananas harvested from plantations in Queensland, Australia, are bound to increase if there is a drought. This is going to affect retailers and consumers alike. Although situations like this are sometimes easy to anticipate and prepare for, the storm and blizzard that took place in the US early last year was more of an example of an unexpected extreme weather that surprised many retailers. Such extreme weather often keeps consumers home bound, unable to, and perhaps unwilling to shop at grocery stores or dine in at restaurants. As a result, businesses at such places may be badly bit when a storm strikes. However, large retail supermarkets might actually benefit from such weather, as households stock pile daily necessities and important supplies such as food and gas.

It is not just storms and blizzards that might happen. Unusually hot weather is equally challenging for businesses as well. It is now summer in the US, and it is common that people would enjoy more outdoor activities during nice sunny days. For example, mountain biking, swimming, and cold beer are perhaps some of people’s favorites during summer. By catering to such shopping habits prepared retailers will definitely gain an edge over others.

Of course, times have changed and now the Internet is king. It is almost impossible to talk about retail businesses without touching on the Internet nowadays. This is not because there is some obsession with the new trend, rather it is simply too important to ignore. Often consumers would be forced to stay indoors if there is bad weather. It might not be anything close to droughts, storms, or tornadoes for that matter, more often than not a gloomy day or a little drizzling rain is sometimes all it takes to ruin our mood for a nice dinner at a restaurant or going for some shopping with friends. Therefore, retailers should learn to utilize the Internet to best avoid such losses and maximize potential opportunities. In fact, a study has shown that when consumers are staying at home they are much more likely to shop online. After all, they have got much more free time than usual to do that. By advertising online and promoting products by giving online-only discounts, retailers can swiftly turn what could be an unpleasant scenario into real business opportunities.

If there is any take away for businesses from this article it should be this—bad weather can be troublesome, however there are always new selling opportunities for you to discover and benefit from.


Daphne Howland, “Weather the storm? How the elements impact retail sales”, 

“How much does weather affect your business?” Business Insurance

Martha Starr-McCluer, “The Effects of Weather on Retail Sales”, Federal Reserve 

Photo credit: © Peternanista | – Businessman That Lost A Job Photo

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