We’re stepping into November, Christmas shopping is slowly creeping up on our agenda of things to do and Oxford Street’s window displays are full of Santas and snowflakes. Retailers should be entering one of their busiest seasons of the year, yet the recent rise in temperatures is having a knock on effect on sales.

Slow September

The autumn months usually see shoppers spending, as they invest in warmer wardrobes to match the drop in temperature but this year’s sales are being influenced by factors outside of retailer’s control. As the shops have been putting summer stock on the sale rails and launching their new AW collections there’s unfortunately been a fall in profits as September saw sales volumes drop by 0.8%* and October is set to show the same disappointing results.

After experiencing the driest September since 1910, Next have been the first retailer to fall victim of the changing weather. With the sun still shining and temperatures set to reach 20 degrees in London this week, their sales have been growing at half the anticipated pace.

Usually one of the most robust in the sector, Next announced that slower demand for its autumn collection has had such a strong impact that they have cut their forecast for 2014 profit and seeing such a strong competitor announce detrimental losses has caused unease in the sector. The caution flagged by Next has led to suspicion around the other big retailers and the likes of M&S and Debenhams have seen their share prices fall as investors believe that they too must be experiencing the same losses.

Shopping habits

Seasonal offerings in store and their relevance evidently effect consumers’ buying habits, but it doesn’t stop there – the weather also influences the platforms from which we buy. If a retailer doesn’t have the stock to meet the consumers’ needs then sales will undoubtedly reflect that, however, online sales are also impacted by seasonal change.

With an unexpected rise in temperatures, consumers are choosing to spend any spare time they may have outdoors which could also be a factor in the falling sales experienced by Next. Colder weather often leads to higher sales through online platforms, as consumers choose to buy from the comfort of their own home. Retailers tend to see higher sales percentages coming from internet shoppers during the seasons of autumn and winter, but these too will be impacted by the uncharacteristically warm October.

Positive outlook

The warmer weather may have had a negative impact for clothing retailers, but some markets have benefitted from the extended period of sunshine. The UK’s strawberry industry has produced a record harvest of 60,000 tonnes since March, and coastal resorts are reporting stronger visitor figures.

Despite a bad couple of months for clothing specialists, they too have a chance to turn around September and October’s losses as the Christmas shoppers will begin to hit the highstreet in the upcoming months.

*BRC

Sarah Pyatt

Account Executive