A Warm February: A Boost to Spring Merchandise Sales?

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Thanks to a warmer than usual February, a Long Island couple enjoy a sunny day at Robert Moses State Park beach..

Berwyn, PA—If this winter seems abnormally warm, this month is going down as the driest in 10 years with much below normal snowfall (save for Denver!).  According to Planalytics, which tracks weather’s impact on business, in the United States, February 2012 was the warmest since 1999 and the driest since 2002, with the least snowfall since 1992.

“As businesses transitioned into the retail Spring selling season, Mother Nature brought conditions into North America that felt more like spring than winter,” said Scott Bernhardt, president at Planalytics. “Overall consumers were purchasing Spring products earlier than last year, helping businesses who were prepared to take advantage of initial demand trends.”

Although warmer temperatures tend to bring out shoppers, especially for President’s Day sales, it’s not so good for exiting seasonal businesses such as cold weather knitwear and accessories. According to Planalytics, sweater sales are off by some 11%, rainwear is down 2%. But sales of T-shirts, a warm weather favorite, are up 10%.

By types of retailers, home centers may stand to gain the most from warm weather business. Planalytics Weather-Driven Demand Index found that broadlines and home centers are up 12% this month. Lawn and garden is up 33%.

Warmer temperatures have helped softline retailers too, which are up 6%. Planalytics says “weather favorability” is up 21% for Saks Inc., 13% for Cato Corp. and 12% for Family Dollar, to name a few.

Significant Weather Events

• February began with the warmest first week in 21 years in the U.S. and warmest since 2005 in Canada. All regions trended warmer than last year, and snowfall was minimal.

• Denver was hit with its biggest February snowstorm on record, with 16 inches being recorded from February 1 to 4.

• Week 2 trended warm and dry, with the least snowfall since 2004 in the U.S. and the least in over 19 years in Canada.

• Week 3 of February in the U.S. saw temperatures trend cooler than last year for the first time in 14 weeks, with more rain and snow than last year. Canada remained warmer than LY and normal, with the least snowfall since 1987.

• The Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and Canadian Civic holidays mostly featured pleasant and dry conditions in major markets, with minimal traffic-limiting weather.

• Despite the cool down in week 3, the final week of the month rebounded back to warm weather. The U.S. had its warmest final week of February since 2000 and was driest since 2008 with the least snowfall since 2006. Canada also experienced temperatures much above normal, with precipitation above normal although snowfall was minimal.

• Heavy rain throughout the month in portions of Texas and the Southeast helped alleviate drought conditions.

∙ All regions in the U.S. trended warmer than last year. The New England region had its warmest February since 1984 and the Mid-Atlantic and East North Central regions were warmest since 1998.


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