Feb 22, 2019

Snow, Ice, and Trips that Aren’t Nice

Winter Weather Header
In January 2019, we saw a significant fluctuation in shopping habits as multiple winter weather systems like Winter Storm Harper and the Polar Vortex moved across the country. People stocked up and bunkered down, shifting in-store trips to traditionally low traffic days as they prepared for Mother Nature’s chilly wrath. Where were these shifts most prevalent, and how did winter weather impact both in-store and online purchases? We took a look back to find out. 

Generally speaking, in-store trips tend to spike on Saturdays. But when snow and ice threaten to hit on the ever-popular day of errands, plans often change. On Friday January 11, many living in the Central United States shifted their weekend spending a day early in preparation for Saturday’s winter weather, which dumped over a foot of snow in some areas around the Mississippi River Valley. 

We saw more peaks and valleys in trip counts as Winter Storm Harper made her way across the US. Central states again stocked up early in preparation for their Saturday snowfall. The most significant variation in trips, though, was seen in New England. Saturday’s shop-ularity, compounded with pre-storm stock ups, made January 19th New England’s highest-traffic shopping day of the month, accounting for 4.9% of trips. The following day saw a sharp decrease in trips, down 3.7% as the storm hit the East Coast full force.

The Polar Vortex, which plummeted temps across the Northern Central states, was most impactful on the 30th, with sub-zero temperatures confining many to their homes. This put an effective freeze on in-store shopping for the North West and North East Central regions, each experiencing their lowest day of shopping trips all month. 

A similar analysis of online shopping habits showed little impact due to weather across most regions. The only significant variation in online trips was a spike in New England on the 20th, with about 4% of the month’s online shopping trips occurring that day. It seems that while cooped up inside to avoid the snow, New Englanders took the opportunity to load up their Amazon carts, purchasing items across the board in Home & Garden, Apparel, Electronics and more. 

As spring approaches and shoppers emerge from their winter hibernation, we'll continue to keep a pulse on the trends and shifts in consumer behavior. Want to understand how weather patterns and other seasonal occurrences affect your shoppers? Drop us a line and we'll dig into the data for your particular brand or category.