How Much Does Weather Affect Shopping Behavior?


With all those winter nights ahead, most people are thinking about hot cups of cocoa, roaring fires, and movie nights on the couch. But does the weather affect your shopping habits? If you feel cold does that mean you are more likely to purchase a new coat, even if you don’t need one?

According to the British Retail Consortium, weather is the second biggest influence on sopping behavior, with the first being the economy. Every purchase made as a consumer is based on the weather. What type of car we drive, what we eat, what type of house we live in, to what we wear are all changed by the weather.

If you live in a snowy mountain range, a consumer will most likely purchase a vehicle that can easily get around, or a home that has good insulation. If a food type isn’t doing well because of too much rain we most likely will skip that purchase as it will be a higher price than a different fruit we may be able to substitute. Retail stores even depend on the weather as the consumer is more likely to go shopping in store on days that are sunny, or warm.

Mariah Walton, of RichRelevance Analytics Team, did a study that pulled data from separate retailers selling four separate products, clothing, wholesale, home and furniture, and lastly, big box. The sales were then compared to the weather finding that most people of Seattle prefer to shop online on rainy days, and shop less or even in store when it was hot outside, even though this is not a clear answer as hot or rainy days tend to cluster together.

Another study, from 2008 by economists Michael Conlin, Ted O’Donoghue and Timothy Vogelsang published the results of a study that looked over 12 million orders of weather related clothing items, which included hats, gloves, boots, and coats. The results of the study were interesting. They found when the temperature dropped, the overall return rate also spiked. And not all consumers are willing to return an item that was purchased and regretted.

Weather affects everything around us, from the tires we pick, to the foods we buy, to the cold feeling projected on a newly purchased coat we may regret. It also controls where and how we shop, whether we shop online or head in-store to look at the racks. It’s plain to see that the weather will always play a role in human behavior.

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