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Weather Trends - July 2006

Hotter and cooler

A YEAR AGO, July ranked as the 12th warmest and 55th driest nationally, based on 111 years of records with hundreds of record hot temperatures set. This was great for hot seasonal category sales and may have helped boost pool furniture categories. Overall, retail same-store sales averaged +3.6% according to data from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

This year, the more intense heat will likely shift to the South Central states with the Southeast similarly warm to a year ago. The rest of the country will have predominantly cooler conditions. The most improved week over a year ago (warmer/drier) is the week of July 4th, so that will bring equally strong demand for seasonal items. The middle of the month presents the most risk for lower store traffic and sales. The hurricane season should begin to heat up late in the month with the East Coast and Texas the most favored targets this season for a major hurricane. The wildfire season out West also will be particularly severe, the worst in three years, after a very wet Spring that allowed vegetation to be prolific. As this vegetation dries out this summer, the potential exists for widespread brush fires.

While no one wants a natural disaster to hit their area, they can both help and hurt some seasonal categories and sometimes the categories that benefit are not readily apparent. For example, mouse traps have huge sales gains in advance of a hurricane and bottled water during a wildfire. Sellers of damaged or destroyed household items can benefit for months after a storm, but most retailers would prefer the threat of a storm that never happens, bringing high sales but no damage. Unfortunately again this year, we will probably not be able to avoid the no damage part.


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