Working in retail marketing drives an unnecessary obsession with the weather.
Rain, shine, snow, storms, they all present different outlooks for retail sales, dependent on category and online/offline presence.

Even the best laid plans have the potential to go awry and a marketing campaign’s success can live or die by the climate.

We’ve blogged a lot about the weather and the impact this can have on retail marketing. We have discussed the pros and cons of a heatwave, the impact of weather on Christmas trading and implications of freak weather.

With the onslaught of floods recently, it’s perhaps no surprise that they are the focus of the latest British Retail Consortium figures.

Footfall grew 1.6% compared with the previous year, marking the best performance since December 2011 despite visits to the High Street falling slightly.

It seems that the wettest January for 250 years sparked a nation of shoppers to flood to out-of-town locations with a 5.7% rise in visitors to retail parks and a 2.4% year-on-year increase in shopping centre visitors.

Of course online retailers benefited from the damp spell with online sales of non-food products growing 19.2% year-on-year, which is the strongest growth since January 2009.

Sales of furniture, particularly new sofas and beds, saw their strongest growth since April 2006 and were the top performing sector. There is speculation that replacing flood damaged furniture is one likely driver.

There are always two sides of a story and bad weather is never good for the High Street. The latest figures show the floods have led to shoppers shunning High Street stores – visitors fell 0.6%, although this was substantially up from their 3.7% fall in December.

Overall the figures are looking positive for retail. While some of this can be attributed to the implications of the recent floods, consumers are regaining their confidence, derived from a combination of factors from signs of housing market recovery to lower unemployment rates and economic stability. Let’s hope the optimism continues, come rain or shine.

Adam Tregaskis