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Heatwave Shopping: A Surge on Dresses and Green, Blue & Yellow Apparel

What happens to retail when the temperatures soar? The lowdown on heatwave shopping, following Britain's hot weather last week. Bright colors are flying.
Heatwave Shopping: A Surge on Dresses and Green, Blue & Yellow Apparel | EDITED

Even if you weren’t in the UK last week, you might have heard about the heatwave (or “heatwave” ) which toasted the nation. After all, we Brits didn’t quite keep calm and carry on. As the Guardian’s very necessary live blog of the hottest July day on record proved.

As for retail? Dramatic shifts in weather always have an impact, whether it’s driving people away or sending them out in search of lighter layers. And the heatwave conformed to the latter in a big way. We know because, thanks to our live retail data, we watched it happen. So let’s show you what we saw. Oh, and you retailers might want to pay extra-special attention, we hear there’s a second, more powerful, heatwave coming.

People buy brighter colors when the temperature rises

It makes sense doesn’t it? But to actually see it reflected in sell outs is pretty neat. The number of greens selling out last week grew by 40% compared to the cooler week beforehand. Whites also shot up by 32% – call it the Wimbledon effect perhaps. What’s especially interesting for retailers here is the indication that customers aren’t buying their boldest summer items in advance of, but rather in response to, the weather.

Growth in sell outs of bright colors as the temperatures soar.

More stuff sold when it was hot

“Get it while it’s hot” has never been more true. There was a 30% increase in the number of products selling out between June 30 and July 6 (the hottest day was July 1), compared to the week before. The average price point of items that sold out was $11.81 higher than the week before, at $63.25.

Retailers used the weather to clear summer stock as reductions climbed by 18.3% compared to the week before. That reverses the trend from the same period in 2014, where like-for-like reductions were scaled back by 55%. However, the amount items were reduced by fell. During the heatwave, retailers discounted items by 27% on average compared to the previous week’s 34%.

What we can take from that is simple: instead of needlessly slashing prices in response to an event, retailers just need to promote the right stuff.

The ‘right stuff’ is dresses

Dress sell outs grew by 112%. Enough said.

The best retailers are responsive

Tight marketing schedules can leave some brands and retailers with little agility to respond to real-life scenarios. That’s a shame, because it’s a fantastic opportunity to let the customer know you’re right there with them. Take Burberry for example. On one of the hottest days of the year, July 3, its newsletter introduced the Fall 2015 collection. Perhaps Burberry’s audience is too global to bother shifting the schedule, but the brand does normally hinge off its London-based location and climate.

On the mass market, Topshop, New Look and ASOS were all brilliantly quick to react to the weather. New Look sent their ‘The HOT playsuit for £12.99’ on June 28. Topshop weaved the heatwave into its newsletter headline on June 30, ‘Get ready to ride the heatwave’, which cleverly featured both bright shades and dresses.

In the premium market, Whistles’ newsletter headline on June 30 read ‘Summer in the city, heatwave solutions’. The newsletter may have been queued to feature event and wedding ideas, but the retailer reworked the angle swiftly. Harvey Nichols also showed its agility with the ‘Is Your Face Melting?’ campaign on June 30, which had just the right amount of ‘we’re one of you’ appeal. We’ll be watching keenly to see who reacts if the temperatures soar once more.