Warm Fall Weather Giving Retailers the Chills

The month of October is notorious for lackluster profit margins for large retailers. The fall month falls right after the high earning back to school season August- September) and the right before the profitable holiday season (November to December). Another factor that has been lowering the profits for retail stores is the warm weather that has largely been affecting the nation this autumn. The above average temperatures have shoppers turning away from all the cold-weather apparel lining the shelves at most retail stores.

Paul Walsh, the Vice President of weather analytics at the Weather Channel, explains, “The weather has a huge [effect] on driving consumer demand—especially this time of year, when people are changing out their closets and getting ready for fall”. Transitional seasons like spring and fall often put retailers at the mercy of the weather. Last spring, Europe experienced a chilly March and April, hurting companies like Zara’s and H&M who banked on skimpy more warm weather friendly apparel designs for the season.  Buyers and other retailers are nervous because they know, “…[once] the weather becomes seasonally appropriate… that in turn drives demand and that in turn drives full-price sales”.

So what does this mean for your business? Many fashion designers are taking this slow time to thoughtfully create their advertisements and ecommerce product photos for the upcoming holiday season with their commercial photographers. Other retailers are creating promotions and markdowns for their products to increase foot traffic and sales for their company. Business week and Yahoo! have both published articles advising customers to “Never Shop in October”. It will be interesting to see if these two powerhouse Internet journals will put yet another damper on October retail sales. It will be up to marketing heads and other fashion PR professionals to try and salvage the profits this month for their various retailers. Halloween related products and costumes have been seeing a great profit margin this year so perhaps in the future it’d be best for retail companies to embrace the spooky season or increase their market research on items products that are more weather neutral.

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