The spell of hot weather in July has delivered good news for retailers as the British Retail Consortium announced that sales enjoyed their fastest July growth in seven years.

The good news doesn’t stop there as this is the third consecutive month that retail figures have improved, suggesting that overall consumer spending is on the up with regained confidence in the high street – at least in some areas.

A sales boost driven by the weather is selective. Categories and products are affected by climate in different ways, and one man’s dream can be another man’s nightmare.

During hot weather consumer habits change – people go out more, spend more time in the park or at the coast and buy summery items for BBQs and the great outdoors.

This presents a mixed blessing for retailers. So while sales of food and drink and beauty products thrived off the back of people stocking up to dine alfresco or prepare for the sun, for others like furniture and home textiles the picture wasn’t quite so positive.

A heatwave also drives people to spend less time online or watching TV, presenting further difficulties for retail as there is less opportunity to market and engage shoppers through these channels.

Winter brings similar challenges, but also opportunities. While in snow and ice people are deterred from the high street, they will spend more time in front of the TV and surfing the net and therefore it can be easier to reach and sell to consumers during bad weather.

Overall a heatwave can bring positive news for retail across the board. For weather-influenced products it can bring incremental sales as shoppers stock up on items they wouldn’t have ordinarily have purchased like sun cream and BBQs.

For retailers of non seasonal products weather patterns are elastic; sales of large ticket purchases such as kitchens, furniture and TVs may dip during hot weather, but while consumers are out buying sun cream their ‘big purchase’ appetite will remain resulting in increased sales for this type of sale once a hot spell is over before leveling out to normality.

Adam Tregaskis