Industry News

When Mother Nature Hands You Lemons

December 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

It’s no secret that this has been one of the warmest December’s on record in the northeast.  With temperatures soaring well into the 60’s on Christmas Eve in Stowe, VT, where I live, it has many of us who are dependent on snow for our livelihood scratching our heads and waiting for the jet stream to bring us some white stuff and cooler temperatures.

When Mother Nature hands you lemons, the best you can do is make lemonade.  Whether that means taking the convertible out for one last spin of the season or extending your fall hiking and biking adventures, those of us in the snow sports industries – not to mention hotel, restaurant and retail businesses not only in ski towns but in cities, a Christmas season without snow is hard to bounce back from.  Times like these call for us to dig deep to make every sale count and not have the holiday season become a total wash out.

I was reading an article recently on nytimes.com about adjusting your holiday menu plans when the weather turns warmer than expected.  The article went on to highlight lighter fare, like salmon and green salads.   The writer suggested swapping out eggnog favorites with refreshing champagne or fruity cocktails instead.

The same sensibility can be used for visual merchandising during a warm holiday season. No one wants to be bombarded with racks of down jackets and heavily insulated ski wear. Go with what is appropriate for the temperatures outside.

While doing research about weather and retail trends, the website Innovative Retail Technologies (www.innovativeretailtechnologies.com), Editor-in-Chief Matt Pillar provides proactive steps a smaller retailer can take when unseasonal weather is the pattern.

We all know, of course, that when it’s looking to be a rainy spring or summer, to beef up rainwear categories, displays and inventories if possible.  But sometimes by playing meteorologist ourselves we are able to look down the road a bit further weather wise and adjust staffing, promotions and visual merchandising accordingly.

“For smaller retailers wanting to be more scientific, there are free online resources available to obtain historical weather conditions with which to analyze how different weather conditions affect the demand for different products or the volume of customers visiting a store,” Pillar reports.

“Retailers should also consider engaging potential customers by providing them with weather data. People always make plans based on the weather so there is no better time to put a product in front of them. A promotional display with live temperatures or forecasts could be used to draw attention to a seasonal promotion. A weekly coupon or email campaign providing the weekend’s forecast could provide greater relevance to a product promotion. Again, free weather data is readily available online…Companies can also integrate detailed weather data into their websites, mobile apps and email campaigns,” he states.

December in Vermont has been one of the warmest on record.  As a preemptive strike, plan your window displays accordingly.  Switch gears and place weather appropriate styles and product technologies up front. 

Below is a display I posted on social media for the shop where I work – promoting lightweight, breathable apparel options for the unusually warm record cycle.  

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Of course weather can’t always be blamed on weak sales.  Economic forecasts, gas prices and consumer confidence play a role. The best we can do is keep our eye on the Doppler radar, do a little snow dance, be thankful for those on the west coast who went without snow last year are getting hammered this year – and for the rest of us – making some tasty lemonade until Mother Nature snaps her fingers.

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2016!

 

 

 

 

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