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What Does The Summer Weather Forecast Mean For Retail And Restaurant Businesses?

"Based on Watson Advertising’s footfall studies around severe weather, we have seen an 80 percent increase in store traffic the day before a severe event, and a 20 percent increase in traffic for the 7 days following an event," says Adrienne Beck, VP/Head of Sales Strategy, Watson Advertising.

With warmer temperatures forecasted across much of the country this summer, consumers are likely to seek respite from the hot weather by heading indoors – including to retail locations, malls, restaurants, and movie theaters, says IBM’s Watson Advertising.

Watson Advertising, which was rebranded from The Weather Company’s ad sales arm last year, uses a number of tools at its disposal, including its WEATHERfx data program, to incorporate artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and insights into the way meteorological changes impact marketing and consumers’ choices.

“We start by looking at what we call ‘seasonal starts,'” says Adrienne Beck, VP/Head of Sales Strategy, Watson Advertising. “That’s the first day, couple of days, first nice weekends where it feels like the start to a new season. That’s a really important moment to capitalize on. During those seasonal first moments consumers tend to really optimistic. They have a lot more energy and they’re feeling more confident. That tends to drive people to be outside, being more social. That’s when you’re going to see people going to restaurants to eat and going into shop versus going online.”

As brands across the U.S. have generally been seeing a shift in weather from winter doldrums to the start of spring, Watson Advertising’s late spring and summer forecast has the west being much warmer than usual at times throughout the two seasons.The biggest concern  right now is the intensifying drought that we’ve seen in southwestern U.S. into the southern plains. If that persists it could mean that there’s gonna be even hotter temperatures this summer across much of the plains as well, Beck says, though that forecast is still in flux.

Here’s the basic rundown for what businesses can expect in terms of weather’s influence on shoppers currently and into summer, according to Watson Advertising:

General overview

With warmer temperatures forecasted across much of the country this summer, consumers are likely to seek respite from the hot weather by heading indoors – including to retail locations, malls, restaurants, and movie theaters.

This warm weather could cause some decreased levels in outdoor activity – but those that do go outside may need help preparing for and recovering from hot temps.

Warm and damp conditions on the east coast and in the southeast could also lead to consumers feeling lethargic, bored, and stressed and they may prioritize their own wants and needs over those of others.

Marketers should consider promotions and products that help energize, entertain, and reward consumers.

Prolonged heat across the country could negatively impact consumer spending and consumers may need extra incentive to purchase during those conditions and later in the summer season as back to school season kicks off.

Home Improvement Category

With a less active hurricane season forecast vs last year, home improvement stores should anticipate decreased sales in those areas related to severe weather, over the course of the summer for parts of the south, southeast, and east coast.

Home retailers should consider stressing preparation and safety messaging ahead of inclement weather and hurricanes. They should also anticipate increased footfall into stores when inclement weather is forecast – staffing and stocking inventory accordingly. Following inclement weather and hurricanes consumers will need help recovering from severe events.

Based on Watson Advertising’s footfall studies around severe weather, we have seen an 80 percent increase in store traffic the day before a severe event, and a 20 percent increase in traffic for the 7 days following an event.

Warm and dry conditions in much of the country may lead consumer to seek products that help them stay cool – i.e. air conditioners and water-related recreational and lawn supplies – but could also lead some to consider lawn & garden updates that require less water usage.

Conditions in the east could lead to increased plant and weed growth, increasing consumer demand for products to help maintain lawns and gardens. With a more damp-than-normal summer season projected, consumers in these locations will particularly want to take advantage of cooler or more dry days to tackle outdoor projects. Retailers should anticipate increased activity on days with more cooperative weather.

The cooler conditions in the north and midwest should be conducive to increased outdoor activity including home, lawn, and garden projects.

Restaurant Category

The transition to summer, and summer transition to fall should both lead to increased dining out activity as consumers seek to be more social and tend to be less price-sensitive during these seasonal first moments. These would be good times to consider promoting new products, or to try to get consumers to switch up dining rituals, as they are more likely to mix up routines and try new things.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.