From Bill Kirk, Weather Trends International:
After three very disappointing Easter periods the past few years with record cold and snow, retailers are about to lay a golden egg this holiday weekend (the most important period in Q1).
The weather will be nothing short of exceptional with the NORTHEAST having the most ideal conditions – warmest and driest in 20+ years for the Easter weekend. The last time Easter weather was this ideal was in middle April 2006 when 1,543 record high temperatures were set across the country – this year is even better in the Northeast! In 2006, Easter weekend temperatures in the Northeast averaged 73°F, 2007 38°F, 2008 46°F, last year 57°F and this year near 80°F! This will result in strong double and even triple digit sales gains over last year for Spring seasonal items like Easter seasonal categories/candy, fans, garden items, grills, deck stains, car wash/wax, bug sprays, allergy medications, suncare, apparel, sandals, cold beer and beverages, outdoor BBQ grilling food categories, ice cream snacks and more.
Across the rest of the country the holiday weekend (Friday – Sunday) conditions are still favorable for the Eastern half of the U.S., but a bit colder/wetter in the West. Here’s the regional summary:
SOUTHEAST: Warmest in 4 years (average high temperatures 81°F) and 57% drier than last year.
SOUTH CENTRAL: Warmest in 4 years (average high temperatures 75°F) but on the damp side with the threat for widespread thunderstorms.
NORTH CENTRAL: Warmest in 4 years (average high temperatures 62F) with some rain South.
NORTH ROCKY MOUNTAINS: 11 degrees colder than last year but a little drier than last year – Sunday is the nicest day.
SOUTH ROCKY MOUNTAINS: Cold start but warmer finish by Sunday.
SOUTHWEST: Coldest in several years but a warm up by Sunday.
NORTHWEST: 6 degrees colder than last year and the wettest in 5 years so this is the least favorable region this weekend.
Nationally, the 5-week retail calendar March is on pace to be the warmest and driest in 3 years with the least snowfall in 20+ years (snowfall down 61% vs last year). Retailers are coming off the worst March ever last year when retail same-store-sales (SSS) were down 5.1% according to ICSC’s tally of retailers, so the combination of easy sales comparisons and exceptional Easter weather will bring a lot of golden eggs when retail sales are announced April 8th! Expectations on Wall Street are +3.0% to +3.5% while WTI expects retail industry SSS gains to be much stronger at +4.5% to +6%. The 4th straight better than expected month for retailers!