Aside from the economy, weather has the biggest impact on consumer behavior, according to the British Retail Consortium. Weather directly impacts shoppers’ moods, their purchasing decisions, where consumers buy, and even how much they spend. There are obvious examples of this, like higher ice cream sales on a warm summer day, or umbrella sales during an unexpected rainstorm. But weather’s impact on purchasing runs even deeper.
Weather has a direct impact on people’s moods. And moods have a direct impact on purchasing decisions. The Atlantic writes, “Since humans are terrible at thinking about the future, they make lots of decisions on the basis of how they feel, here and now, rather than how they’re likely to feel in the future. New Years puts a person in a forward-thinking mood, which results in hundreds on a gym membership. Birthdays encourage thinking about today, which licenses indulgence.” A positive mood make impulses and indulges, like unplanned shopping purchases, seem even more rewarding.
And there’s plenty of data to suggest that warm sunny weather puts people in better moods. On nice days, people are generally happier, more generous, and overall more positive. In reality, weather affects practically every consumer purchase decision. According to WeatherAds, weather impacts “the food we eat, the clothes we wear, what car we drive and even what type of house we buy.” Overall, weather impacts consumer behavior on three levels; their purchase method, their mood, and their product choice.
Weather Affects Purchase Method & Pricing
Sunlight has a direct impact on people’s moods. In the winter, without sun, many suffer from a temporary depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In the spring and summer months when there is more sun, people’s moods are lifted. As retailers know, better moods typically equal higher spending.
According to Business2Community, “A Canadian study revealed that exposure to sunlight dramatically increased levels of consumption, as well as the amount spent per item. The research showed consumers were willing to pay 37% more for green tea and 56% more for a gym membership after being exposed to sunlight.”
Some retailers use artificial lighting in their stores to try and mimic this effect. Using artificial light to encourage creativity and open-mindedness when shopping is not proven to work. The most noticeable effect is from natural light that shoppers soak up before entering the retail space.
How Weather Impacts Mood & Purchasing
With the exception of major holidays, consumers don’t shop based on the calendar, they shop based on how they feel. According to Forbes, shoppers wait until it feels like springtime before turning to update their seasonal wardrobes. Shoppers will start buying for Spring when it feels like Spring.
Another article on Forbes points out that warm weather results in increased foot traffic. Springtime cabin fever means more people are spending time outdoors, which can be a boon for main street retailers. During the summer when weather really heats up, shoppers are more likely to stop in to enjoy the air conditioning, and finally make that purchase they’ve been putting off.
Weather & Product Choice
CBC reports that hot weather is a “need-driver” versus a “want-driver.” In other words, during hot weather shoppers are purchasing water bottles sunscreen, and sports drinks — items that are necessary due to the heat. Business Insider reports “Consumers overvalue warm-weather vehicle types and housing characteristics” such as convertibles or swimming pools, “when the weather is warm at the time of purchase and overvalue cold-weather vehicle types when the weather is cold and snowy at the time of purchase.”
During summer seasons that last longer than usual, indoor destinations like movie theaters see a boost in sales as shoppers look to beat the heat. But, apparel retailers also reap the benefits of a long summer. If warm weather lasts longer, stores can put off marking down summer clothes as shoppers continue to make purchases throughout the season. Retaining solid margins throughout the summer season as a result of warmer weather can have a direct impact on increased year-over-year sales.
What can you do to take advantage of the changes in temperature and mood? Go with the flow. As an indie retailer, you have the flexibility to add or move product depending on the day — and the day’s weather. Keep an eye on the forecast, and have fun with your product selection, especially your front window displays, to take advantage of the best weather days in the year.