Jul 22, 2022
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Too hot to shop: UK consumers shun stores and e-stores during heatwave

Jul 22, 2022

It's perhaps no surprise that the heatwave in recent days deterred UK consumers from shopping in physical locations, but they clearly felt too hot to shop overall as they also cut back on their online purchases, new data showed on Friday.

Photo: Pixabay/Public domain

Customer engagement platform Wunderkind and shopper traffic analyst Sensormatic Solutions said that both online revenues and footfall declined early in the week as UK temperatures soared to record levels.

As temperatures started to climb on Monday 18 July, web revenues fell a massive 47.8% week-on-week, and while they recovered on Tuesday, the recovery was small. Over the two-day period of the heatwave, total web revenues therefore fell 30.7% compared to the same period the week before.

Usually in heatwaves it might have been assumed that consumers were outdoors enjoying the sunshine rather than shopping. But temperatures that rose close to 40° meant that massive numbers of people simply stayed inside. And warnings from the authorities that the heat was a danger to life and that public transport would be seriously disrupted added to that.

The data also revealed that traffic to UK retailers’ websites on Monday 18 July fell marginally, down 1.12% week-on-week, while web visits on Tuesday 19 hovered just below the same level (-0.003%) as the week before. That's interesting and certainly underlines the 'too hot to shop' claim. People were clearly clicking online as they usually did, but they just weren't buying as much. 

However, they’d e-shopped heavily in advance of the widely-flagged heatwave and as the record temperatures eased on Wednesday 20 July, web revenues rallied, rising 51.21% compared to the Wednesday before.

Meanwhile, high street footfall fell 14% over the two days while footfall to all UK retail destinations dropped 11%. 

London has been hit hardest by the pandemic in recent years but had been on the recovery trail. However during the heatwave, footfall in the capital dipped 9.2%. It was potentially being held up in part by tourism and holidaymakers who were already in London and we're clearly determined to make the most of their holidays. But the commuters and other UK shoppers who might have normally gone into London on the Monday and Tuesday clearly didn’t. 

That said, the biggest city drop in shopper traffic was in Nottingham, where temperatures reached 39°, and shopper numbers fell by an unsurprising 24%.

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