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Can retailers blame soggy sales on the weather?


 
Blame it on the rain

Paul Thomas/Getty Images

Many major retailers seem to believe you can only make hay while the sun shines.

Last week, Target said a chilly spring lowered demand for seasonal items, leading to disappointing first-quarter U.S. sales.

Home Depot said the spring weather hurt its “seasonal and exterior businesses.”

Bad weather has also recently been blamed for lower-than-expected sales at Wal-Mart, H&M and Lowe’s.

While weather clearly plays a role in retail sales, Queen’s University marketing professor Monica LaBarge says the weather defence is a little, well, damp.

“It’s not like consumers don’t need to eat or buy clothes, so if they’re not going to your store, where are they going?” (The answer, increasingly, is online.) LaBarge says companies need to encourage shoppers to think long-term about purchases instead of reacting to dips in temperature.

After all, shareholders still expect sales, come rain or shine.


 
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