AccuWeather, the largest and fastest-growing weather media company and global leader in weather-related big data, business and analytics, today announced that it expects U.S. shoppers will spend about $720 billion during the 2018 holiday shopping season, a healthy boost over 2017 holiday retail spending. By factoring in weather, AccuWeather’s prediction represents a 4.1 percent or $28 billion increase from 2017, slightly below the prediction of the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) wide projection of $29.6 billion to $33 billion, an increase of 4.3 to 4.8 percent.
The AccuWeather model, developed by AccuWeather’s D3 Data Driven Decisions analytics group, incorporates weather forecasts as well as economic indicators and historical shopping trend data, and proved to be more accurate in its 2017 holiday forecast prediction than other sources. Last year, AccuWeather projected a 4.2 percent increase in 2017 holiday retail sales over 2016 holiday spending, which proved more accurate than the NRF prediction of a 3.6 to 4 percent increase.
AccuWeather Founder and President Dr. Joel Myers said that this year, holiday shoppers can expect weather conditions to average overall about normal during the holiday shopping period. Very cold weather in the east will dampen sales slightly on “Black Friday,” the Friday immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday. However, the following 30 days will feature an average number of storms and near normal temperatures averaged somewhat above normal overall, which AccuWeather said leads to increased holiday retail spending.
“There are going to be some storms here and there, but nothing terribly disruptive or extraordinary,” said Myers. “There will be storms in the West, which will lead to some mudslides in the burn areas impacted by the wildfires in California unfortunately, and may cause a dip in some holiday spending.
“At this time, we do not anticipate a huge storm in December that will shut everything down and impact the supply chain for retailers nationwide or otherwise interfere with holiday shopping to a great extent. One- or two-day storms during this period are typical. We are predicting a slightly lower percentage increase in holiday spending than the NRF when factoring in colder temperatures than last year, the slight impact due to the wildfires in California and the resulting mudslides, and the recent drop in the stock market – while the economy is robust, the recent sharp drop in the market may cause a little more caution among shoppers.”
Overall, Myers added that normal weather patterns, combined with a strong economy, low unemployment and high consumer confidence indicate a healthy holiday spending season, which will be great news for the American economy.
Businesses in the retail sector and other industries rely on AccuWeather’s D3 Data Driven Decisions service for predictive analytics that enable businesses to proactively benefit from changes in the weather and to eliminate interruptions and losses. The service translates historical weather data and other complex data models into customized, actionable insights that help people make the best decisions, all the way down to the level of individual stores.
“Our models show that for every degree increase of maximum average temperature for the country above last year, an increase of 0.358 percent from previous holiday sales occurs,” says AccuWeather Expert Data Scientist Tim Loftus.
AccuWeather’s holiday sales forecast considers the additional impact of weather conditions and weather forecasts on holiday shopping. Most holiday sales estimates look solely at economic trends without any consideration of weather, a variable which drives decision-making and planning for virtually every activity. In fact, AccuWeather has found that approximately 25 percent of the change in National Holiday Sales each year can be explained by weather.
AccuWeather’s analysis offers some additional key weather-based insights for the retail industry.
“Retailers should expect more traffic at brick and mortar stores during days when average temperatures are warmer than normal, and if those warmer days occur on peak traffic days—Thursday to Sunday—this will benefit retailers greatly,” Myers said. “Abnormally cold weather will deter consumers from venturing outside, which will likely prompt online shopping. If, as our analog and long-range team are forecasting, below-normal temperatures affect a large portion of the eastern and southern U.S., consumers in those areas may be doing more online shopping in 2018 compared to 2017.”
Currently, AccuWeather is forecasting a storm system, with heavy snow and ice expected sometime during the second to third week of December. The Southeast should expect cool to chilly temperatures with a few storms during peak holiday shopping days, and the southwestern US should expect a mix of dry and later wet weather during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with cooler than normal temperatures into the first week of December before returning to drier, warmer conditions by mid-December.
The seasonal winter storms AccuWeather predicts for the eastern US in mid-December could delay shipping by one or two days. “Shoppers would be smart to make their purchases and ship them as soon as possible for timely deliveries,” said Myers. “For the purposes of convenience, planning and most of all safety, we advise shoppers and travelers alike to download the free AccuWeather app and closely monitor changing weather conditions this holiday season.”
As the No. 1 weather app worldwide, AccuWeather continues to add new features that help users by delivering the best, most actionable information about the weather that affects their daily lives—for example, the AccuWeather app’s exclusive Snowfall Probability feature, which forecasts probable amounts of snow at a user’s exact location in addition to showing the range of possibilities for a storm so people can better prepare in advance of adverse conditions.
By providing forecasts and warnings verified for their Superior Accuracy™ across all major platforms, including both digital and traditional media, AccuWeather helps save more lives, keeps more people safe, and helps people and companies plan more effectively in all weather conditions. In the most comprehensive study of forecast accuracy ever undertaken, AccuWeather was overwhelmingly reconfirmed by independent industry tracker ForecastWatch as the world’s most accurate source of weather forecasts in the categories tested—precipitation, wind, and high-temperature forecasts.
More importantly, AccuWeather forecasts have superior value that goes well beyond what is demonstrated in this and all other independent forecast accuracy comparisons. The reasons for this are numerous. First, AccuWeather forecasts are more localized than other sources. Further, they are more detailed and extend further into the future. For example, the independent verification by ForecastWatch was based on comparing all New York City forecasts, but AccuWeather provides further detail for 279 neighborhoods within New York City and most other sources do not, which means AccuWeather delivers Superior Accuracy not even captured in study after study of statistical forecast accuracy comparisons.
Another advantage is AccuWeather MinuteCast®, which gives accurate, minute-by-minute forecasts of precipitation up to two hours ahead with start and stop times. In fact, the ForecastWatch study concluded that AccuWeather’s probability of precipitation forecasts, which are key to MinuteCast forecasts, were 21 percent more accurate than those of the next-ranked provider and 23 percent more accurate than the average of all other sources.
This powerful combination of accuracy and detail, both in location and time, make AccuWeather forecasts many times more valuable than any other source and helps users make the very best weather-related decisions, especially handy during the harsh winter months.