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How shoppers bought in a heatwave: data

Shoppers rushed to buy before the heatwave hit this week and then held off from spending either online or offline as temperatures peaked over the course of Monday and Tuesday, new analysis suggests. 

A week before the heatwave, web revenues grew by 17.4% on Monday July 11 and Tuesday July 12, as shoppers stocked up, according to data from customer engagement platform Wunderkind. Retailers including Currys, Argos and Asda reported strong sales of fans, air conditioning units, padding pools and other hot weather items ahead of the Met Office red and amber alerts that affected England, Wales and much of Scotland. 

But as UK temperatures approached and then passed 40% over the course of Monday July 18 and Tuesday July 19, spending subsided, falling by 47.8%, week-on-week (WOW), on Monday, and then recovering slightly on Tuesday (+1.1% WOW). Over the course of the two days, total web revenues were down by 30.7% on the same period a week earlier, Wunderkind data suggests. Web traffic to UK retail websites fell slightly both this Monday (-1.1%) and Tuesday (-0.003%). 

But once temperatures fell back on Wednesday July 20, online revenues grew by 51.2% on the previous week.

“With warnings that the extreme heat could impact infrastructure, including transport and logistics networks, Brits moved fast to get ahead with their online shopping in a bid to beat the heat, prompting a boost to online revenues,” says Wulfric Light-Wilkinson, GM International at Wunderkind. “Events like this, though rare, highlight the value of understanding consumer needs and being able to give shoppers what they want, exactly when they want it.”    

At the same time, footfall fell by 11% over the course of the two days, according to shopper traffic analyst Sensormatic Solutions, with high street visits down by 14%. As temperatures reached 40.2⁰ at London Heathrow on Tuesday, footfall in London was 9.2% down on the previous week. In Nottingham, where temperatures hit 39⁰ degrees, shopper numbers fell by 24%

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