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Too hot to shop – UK puts shopping on hold for heatwave

UK consumers were too hot to shop during the recent heatwave, with online revenues and footfall declining, according to the latest data from customer engagement platform, Wunderkind, and shopper traffic analyst, Sensormatic Solutions.

As temperatures started to climb on Monday 18 July, web revenues took a tumble, falling -47.8% week-on-week, recovering to +1.06 week-on-week on Tuesday 19 July when Britain saw record breaking temperatures. Over the two-day period of the heatwave, total web revenues fell -30.7% compared to the same period the week before.  

The data also revealed that web traffic to UK retailers’ websites on Monday 18 July fell marginally -1.12% week-on-week, while web visits on Tuesday 19 hovered just below the same level (-0.003%) as the week before. As the record temperatures eased on Wednesday 20 July, web revenues rallied, rising to +51.21% compared to the Wednesday prior.

With weather forecasters issuing warnings of extreme heat the week preceding the heatwave, Wunderkind’s data has revealed that online shopping also peaked ahead of the UK’s hottest two days on record.  Total web revenues for Monday and Tuesday (11 and 12 July) were up 17.4% compared to the week before, as Brits scrambled to get ahead and prepare themselves for the soaring temperatures. In the week preceding the heatwave, tech retailer Currys said it had sold a record 17,000 electric fans, and sales of air conditioning units from Argos were up 2,240%, while Asda said its paddling pool range saw sales increase by 1,000% on the week prior.

Wunderkind’s GM International, Wulfric Light-Wilkinson, commented: “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. 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.”    

And, with the Met Office’s ‘Red Alert’ warning for heat in place across much of the country, which urged Brits to avoid non-essential travel, footfall data from Sensormatic Solutions, which analyses over 40 billion shopping in-store visits globally each year, showed that once the heat arrived, shopper numbers on the high street dipped sharply.  

Footfall across all UK retail settings fell by 11% across the two-day heatwave on Monday and Tuesday. High streets saw the biggest fall, with shopper traffic down 14% as Brits sweltered. 

While London Heathrow was posting the hottest temperature ever recorded in the UK of 40.2⁰ degrees, footfall in the capital dipped -9.2%, potentially being held up in part by tourism and holidaymakers, rather than commuters and shoppers. Meanwhile, the biggest city drop in shopper traffic was in Nottingham, where temperatures reached 39⁰ degrees, and shopper numbers fell by -24%.

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