U.S. DECEMBER 2010 SUMMARY: Although temperatures trended warmer than last year for the nation as a whole, the retail December 2010 still ranked as the 3rd coldest in 18+ years. Colder and drier weather ensnared the Eastern half of the U.S. while a different story played out in the West with warmer and wetter weather. The crucial final weekend before Christmas played out favorably for the northern half of the nation as drier weather prevailed, however, the West and Rocky Mountains did not fare as well. A series of Pacific storms pounded the Western U.S. bringing flooding rains to CA, AZ and NV and excessive snow of 10-20 feet to the Sierra Mountains. Despite snowier conditions in the Southeast, Southwest and Northwest, snow was the least in 3 years for the U.S. as a whole. Immediately following Christmas, a major Nor'easter churned up the East Coast but only brought impacts to New Jersey and the New York City area where 1-2 feet of snow brought travel to a standstill. Retailers heavily based in this area would have felt an impact from this storm, but most were relatively unscathed.
Colder than normal temperatures helped to drive demand of seasonal items like firelogs, heavy outerwear, comfort foods, etc. The West was the challenging spot this month with exceptionally wet weather dampening store traffic. A drier and less snowy retail December was a benefit to retail sales and will help to push same-store-sales above Wall Street expectations. Given the favorable weather and improving economy, WTI expects sales to come in at +4.5%.
U.K. DECEMBER 2010 SUMMARY: The retail December 2010 was a very challenging month for retailers as exceptionally cold and snowy weather kept many consumers hunkered down at home and resulted in the loss of holiday sales. Temperatures were the coldest in over 100 years for the U.K. as a whole, while precipitation trended the driest in at least 30 years. The first 2 weeks of the month saw temperatures trending much colder than last year and normal with snowfall disrupting travel in Scotland and northern England. A very brief respite arrived during the 2nd weekend of the month with temperatures trending warmer than last year, however, colder temperatures and snow quickly returned in the following week. Southeast England and the southern Midlands experienced the worst of the wintry weather's impact during the weekend prior to Christmas. Snow and icy roadways continued to be an issue in the final days leading up to Christmas. Milder weather came a bit too late to save the 2010 holiday shopping season as the final week of the month was the first week to trend warmer than last year since early November.
Bitterly cold temperatures and snow were favorable for items like heavy outerwear, car batteries, comfort foods, body lotions, heaters, snow removal items, etc. However, footfall was severely impacted by the cold and snow. Gift categories will have struggled this year since many consumers' shopping plans were altered or all together canceled due to the poor weather and travel conditions. Although colder weather lingered into Boxing Day, travel conditions were much improved over previous weeks and retailers, especially in London, reported heavy footfall. Milder weather following the Christmas holiday was favorable for footfall as consumers browsed post-holiday sales and rushed to beat the VAT increase in January. Overall, like-for-like sales are expected to come in below expectations when they are announced later in January.
G-20 DECEMBER 2010 SUMMARY: December 2010 was a particularly chilly month for many as G-20 temperatures trended -1.3C colder than last year. The eastern United States and northern Europe were dealt the biggest blow from Old Man Winter with bitterly cold and snowy conditions. Cold and snow persisted through the first 3 weeks of the month in northern Europe with snow affecting many areas unaccustomed to snowfall. A forest fire in Israel at the start of the month was one of the worst in their history and was brought on by windy and dry conditions. Shortly following the fire, a powerful cyclone pounded the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East with torrential rains and high winds. Although the storm brought some short-term disruptions to shipping activities, it did help to alleviate a prolonged drought in Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Shipping operations were also disrupted in Central America as weeks of torrential rain forced the first ever weather-related closure of the Panama Canal on the 8th and 9th of December. Rain affected Colombia, Panama and Venezuela resulting in mudslides and flooding.
Winter seasonal categories were the favored items in the eastern U.S. and northern Europe, however, abnormally severe conditions in northern Europe made travel difficult and kept many consumers at home. Particularly perilous conditions just prior to Christmas resulted in the loss of last minute shopping sales and dampened gift category demand. During the lengthy cold outbreak, energy prices in Europe increased which impacted consumer's discretionary income. In the southern hemisphere, colder weather was a negative for Spring seasonal categories with eastern Australia seeing especially poor conditions as cooler and wetter (flooding rains in some areas) dampened seasonal demand and store traffic. Of course, any of the areas that were struck by flooding this month will have seen store traffic numbers affected with a spike in demand for clean up categories. Flooding also endangered crops for farmers, like the coffee crops in Venezuela.
About Weather Trends International: The global leader of actionable year-ahead business weather guidance for retailers, manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, agricultural firms, financial equity and commodity analysts. Clients include some of the world’s most respected and successful companies like Wal-Mart, ASDA, Target, Kohl’s, AutoZone, Sherwin-Williams, Anheuser-Busch, Johnson & Johnson, 3M, SC Johnson, JP Morgan, Agway, Hershey’s and over a hundred fifty others. Its business centric weather solutions and understanding of how consumers respond to the weather is used throughout organizations to help "manage the weather risk”. Utilizing technology first developed in the early 1990s, Weather Trends International’s unique statistical math based trade secret formula forecasting methodology projects temperature, precipitation and snowfall trends by day and week a year-ahead for 720,000 locations across the globe (all 195 countries) with an industry leading 75% to 95% accuracy. WTI is recipient of 6 business/technology awards this year: 2009 winner of the Red Herring North America technology award, 2009 winner of the American Business Award for Most Innovative Company of the Year, International Business Award for Most Innovative Company of the Year in North America and Forbes #5 Most Promising Company of the year. Offices in Bethlehem, PA, and Bentonville, AR. Visit http://www.wxtrends.com/ or http://www.myskeye.com/ for more information and check out our new consumer website Weather Trends 360 to see your local year-ahead weather forecast.