The Met Office has recently published a report that considers the impact of weather on the retail industry (a copy is available here). The report considers the views of over 200 executives and managers in the industry, and analyses their use of weather data alongside the impact it has on their business.

The findings of the report are interesting, if somewhat expected. For almost half of the respondents the weather was reported as one of the top three most important factors that drove the demand of goods for their consumers. Despite this, only 35% are making use of any weather forecast data as part of their business.

Retailers are primarily using the weather data (amongst other factors) for sales forecasting, planning stock availability and planning deliveries.

Although the very nature of unexpected weather is that it cannot be pre-empted, being wise to the potential gains of short term solutions can go a long way to dealing with such situations. Being able to create some flexibility on lead times and delivery schedules in supply side contracts would be beneficial for retailers to help meet demand in real time.