Weather and the Impact on High Street Retail

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Geography and Planning


The primary purpose of this project is to explore the integration of weather condition data at national and local levels with retail outcomes in terms of overall purchase and product category stratification. This will have a particular focus on temporal trends, and how forecast data might be incorporated into models associated with spend, offers or product purchase propensity and pricing. The key aims for the project are: (a) to determine potential relationships between different product categories and weather; and (b) to examine change in consumer purchase behaviour due to the weather and the relationships between that switch and various demographic and spatial factors. This work will be undertaken alongside an industrial partner, using data they have provided, and will include case studies of different spatial scales for their particular industry.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000401/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2024
1949116 Studentship ES/P000401/1 25/09/2017 24/09/2021 Natalie Rose
Description Using a extensive and comprehensive dataset of sales provided by a major high street retailer in the UK, this research has been able to identify key trends in daily retail consumption behaviours that have been previously unattainable in the context of the UK. Initial results have shown that we can find seasonal trends in weather impact on retail sales and the nature of relationships between different weather conditions and total sales across over 2000 brick-and-mortar stores in England. In addition to this, the most weather dependent product types can be identified as well as the spatial differences in weather impact, both locally and nationally. The work from this first main project has opened up more research questions to be taken on for the next projects.

Another sub-project, looking at delineating retail centres across Great Britain, has enabled new clustering methodologies to be applied to an expansive national dataset of retail locations to identify the location and extent of over 8,000 consumption spaces. This also developed a new research connection with Ordnance Survey who were able to provide the data and have asked for a meet-up to disseminate the findings.

Finally, as a result of the funding provided, specialist training courses in a range of different research methods and programming skills have enabled me to develop a multitude of new skills that have extended my analysis capabilities and enriched the research undertaken.
Exploitation Route It is hoped that these research outcomes can inform both future academic work and retail industry insights.

As a forerunning project for UK retail and the impact that everyday weather conditions can have on sales, it is hoped that this can inspire further academic work on different retail sectors and time frames to further understanding across the retail sector as a whole, and perhaps considering both brick-and-mortar and online sales platforms.

With respect to non-academic/industry usage, ideally these findings will provide valuable insights into the level of impact that weather can have and feed into existing analysis for ensuring sustainability and profitability in a challenging retail climate.
Sectors Retail

Description CDRC partner event 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk to industry partners and academics about the data I am using for my project and the opportunities it presents us with. Included presenting the results of my first research paper prompting a discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description SLA Challenges and Opportunities in Retail Location Analysis event 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A presentation about the results of my first research paper and the methods used for analysis to a group of location analysts for the retail industry. Questions and discussion followed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Talk at the CARTO Retail & FMCG Data Analytics Community Meetup February 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A talk to approximately 40 business professionals about using spatial methods in retail analytics and how we can gain more useful information from this. Sparked extended discussion and lots of interesting questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020