Warmer weather not enough to thaw economy
Furniture Today Staff -- Casual Living, February 1, 2009
Nationally, the spring of 2009 should see more favorable weather than last, although the start of the season may be a bit sluggish as the deep South trends similar to or slightly cooler than last year in February.
Last year, February started off with record warm weather, but each of the last three weeks of the month trended colder than average. Snowfall was down 7% vs. 2007, but the month still ranked as the fourth snowiest February in 15 years. If inclement weather wasn't enough to contend with, various other factors combined to present growing challenges for doing business. For example, one of the worst flu outbreaks in nine years gripped the nation; food inflation was extreme with a +5.8% increase; gasoline prices trended 34% higher to reach record levels; the real estate and housing construction industries were stagnant and a general weakening of the economy had begun. All those were negatives for first quarter retail sales.
Less snowfall and warmer temperatures than last year in the North should get consumers at least thinking about the upcoming outdoor season though it's a bit early to expect much increase in demand. Unfortunately, a challenging economy will continue to weigh heavily on the consumer even though the weather generally will be better.