Heatwave Raises Retail Temperatures

Posted on 10 July, 2013 by Kirsten Kennedy

The recent hot weather has seen consumers flock to their nearest supermarkets and DIY stores in earnest to make the most of the summer. Memories of last summer, when cloud and rain kept the majority of British people indoors, have ensured that the public is keen to embrace the current spell of good weather.

Barbecue foods, sun cream and alcoholic beverages such as Pimms and white wine have soared. However, seaside resorts such as Brighton and Blackpool are also benefiting from the sunshine as staycationers head to their nearest beach – this has allowed small retailers and leisure firms to post more positive results than have been seen in some time.

Health and beauty chain Superdrug reported a 10 per cent increase in sales of suncream and aftersun in the last weekend of June, with expectations of further rises in this area. Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer posted a record number of weekly strawberry sales in the week leading up to the Wimbledon final, with a total just shy of 1 million punnets being snapped up by eager consumers.

Yet while supermarket sales increases are certainly a positive indicator of consumer confidence, the most welcome sales boost can be found at garden centres and DIY stores. Last year, many chain and independent stores were forced to post worryingly poor results due to the washout summer, and it is hoped that this two-week heatwave can help to make up for past losses.

Chairman of the Garden Centre Association, Peter Burks, claims that outdoor specialists are now beginning to recover from the chilly start to the year, but warns that any further increases in temperature could cause the pendulum to swing once more in the opposite direction.

He says; “In the past six weeks, trade has generally been a lot better than the same period last year.

“Most garden centres are coming back towards parity with 2012 now.

“I would love it to be a warm summer, but we don’t want temperatures into the 30s as that would really put everyone off doing their gardening.”

Garden furniture sales are the main driving force behind the success of many garden centres, as people wish to enjoy the weather in comfort. Furthermore, larger plants and shrubs have become key sales items – thanks to the cool spring, they are flowering later this year and as such are a perfect accompaniment to a summer garden.

Unfortunately, though, the hot weather also ushers in slower trading for many retailers specialising in electronics and indoor entertainment. Managing director of retail analyst Conlumio warns that specialist stores could suffer.

He says; “The sun doesn’t shine on everyone.

“The supermarkets do well as people need to buy food, regardless of the weather, but it’s generally bad news for the high street.”

With the high street enjoying its first period of prosperity for some time, there are concerns that a sustained spell of good weather could send consumers to the beach rather than the shops. Yet with many towns and cities making the most of the good weather by putting on street parties and events to draw in consumers, perhaps this bout of sunshine could spell clear skies for small independent retailers.

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