Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Mother Nature matters more than ever

October 7, 2008

rain2.jpgCheck out the cool and wet weather that hit U.S. retailers in September as the month will go into the books as the fifth coolest in the last seven years and much cooler than last year, according to Planalytics Inc, a business weather tracking company.

While the mean September temperature in the 96 largest U.S. metro areas fell about 4 points from last year to 64.2 degrees, retailers selling rainwear (demand up 29 percent based purely on weather), pants (up 13 percent), dehumidifiers (up 10 percent) and hot cereal (up 2 percent) benefited, Planalytics said.

September also was the 11th wettest since 1961, driven by six tropical storms, including Hurricane Ike, the consulting firm said. Some cities, such as Chicago, St. Louis and Wichita, Kansas, had their wettest Septembers ever recorded, while Houston, Kansas City and Little Rock, Arkansas, had months that still ranked among the the 10 wettest.

“The tropical systems that pummeled both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts became the real weather story of the month. Despite challenging economic times, businesses that supply pre- and post-hurricane staples such as gas, ice, water, non-refrigerated foods, generators, tarps, plywood, and chainsaws experienced brisk sales in the affected areas, driven by need-based purchases” Fred Fox, Planalytics CEO Fred Fox said in a statement. “In addition, foot traffic into grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels was robust along evacuation routes.”

The weather was a favorable factor for 78 percent of the publicly traded companies tracked by Planalytics, with the biggest positive comparisons seen at BJ’s Wholesale Club (store traffic up 24 percent), Family Dollar Stores (up 22 percent), Shoe Carnival (up 16 percent) and Target (up 13 percent).

More broadly, the index for retailers that sell a broad line of merchandise was up 14 percent based solely on weather, and it rose 8 percent for retailers that sell mostly apparel, Planalytics said. On the down side, were indices for home centers (off 4 percent) and restaurants (off 6 percent). 

Also in the basket:

Global Fears of a Recession Grow Stronger (New York Times)

Home Depot Learns to go Local (Wall Street Journal)

Safeway third-quarter profit rises


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