Expect a barbecue summer says the Met Office. And as I stand and watch my newly and proudly planted sweet corn crop being battered by the rain I begin to wonder what the effects of a long hot summer will have on high street retailers.

Depending on who you believe, and I’ve followed David Smith of The Sunday Times for years, there’s a glimmer of hope that we may be about to enter the slow slog out of the recession. According to GfK NOP people are more optimistic about themselves and the economy for the first time in over a year. Nationwide says falling house prices are moderating. Frankly, after the previous year’s worth of news this should be music to my ears.

So why do I feel a slight sense of dread about a long hot summer at the potential turning point of a recession? It’s because weather has such a fundamental effect on our approach to shopping. A glorious summer day not only influences what we buy, it determines whether or not we make the trip in the first place – for deferrable purchases such as large ticket items it can have a disastrous impact on sales. 

It also affects the time of day we shop and the amount of time we spend looking, which will further exasperate the trend we identified as ‘mission shopping’. Where shoppers are placing an increasing emphasis (probably from the comfort of their deck chair) on comparative research based shopping. So when they do eventually hit the shops, or hit the buy button online, it will be with serious purchase intent for that item, and that item alone.

Marketers need to focus on the brand and store experience to make the shopping trip as easy and engaging as possible. Think about navigation to hot spots, or things that will stop shoppers in their tracks and allow them to deviate form their mission. Create clear communication of the offer or enhance service given by staff – essentially go back to retail basics and discover (for some) the new world of shopper marketing. Unfortunately and inevitably it will rain one day and on that day we want them back in our stores building on the memories they created on the sunny days.

Of course there will be winners – garden centers being my personal favourite – but for the rest of the high street retailers whose products are not weather aligned it may well be a long hard drag.

So while personally I am hoping to prove myself as a vegetable gardener and for that I need sunshine, professionally I’m rather hoping for a slightly damper affair.