You can’t predict the weather…

Around ten per cent of the British economy is weather-sensitive, according to Netweather.tv. And bad weather nearly always hits the retail sector.

Douglas Wilkie, MD of department store chain Wilkies, noted a slump in sales during the Christmas period just gone, despite seasonal discounts. “We had stinking weather over the sales,” says Wilkie. “The snow seriously hampered us. And those poor weeks had an effect on turnover.” The company turned over £6m that year, only three per cent up on the previous year: well below predicted growth for the firm.

The damage can run into the millions. In 2004, the UK’s largest sportwear retailer JJB sports saw a 20 per cent dip in profits as a result of unseasonably wet and windy weather. Sales of T-shirts and shorts, tennis racquets and balls, golf balls and bicycles declined in the absence of sunshine. Operating profits that year were £69.1m compared to £74.1m the previous year.

Monique Carty, director of £4m-turnover adult toys company sextoys.co.uk, told Real Business that hot, balmy weather invariably has a positive effect on sales. “There’s no real reason this should be the case,” she says. “People are just a lot more frisky in warm weather.” Orders through the website on a hot, sunny day can match the volumes seen at Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

Then there’s the fantastic results recently announced by Dominos, the AIM-listed pizza delivery business. Sales are up 11 per cent for the first six weeks of the year; profits to the end of 2007 were up a third to £18.7m. All down in part to a wet British summer in 2007.

It not just about tills ringing, either. Abbey Business Banking did a survey of 1,000 people to ascertain the effect of bad weather on staff attendance. One in four employees have been absent from work for a day in the past five years because of snow, storms or bad weather. And a further one in three is often late getting to the office because of problems associated with the weather.

Unsurprisingly, workers in Scotland were hardest hit by bad weather conditions.

What’s your line of business? Does the weather play an important part in your success? Let us know. Picture source.

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