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Bloomberg reports on a new Adobe study concluding that bad weather can be a strong driver of online shopping.

According to the story, "Bad weather will spur an additional $13.5 billion in US online spending this year, up about 3% from last year."

Details from the Adobe study:

"Rain provides the biggest online sales boost, accounting for $8.7 billion. The effect peaks when there’s rainfall of 0.8 to 1 inch (2.5 centimeters), which would typically mean three hours of heavy rain. And the shopping gains are particularly strong on weekends and in the fall.

Wind is expected to lift online sales by $4.4 billion, but it only helps up to a point. Speeds of more than 25 miles (40 kilometers) an hour cause e-commerce to wane as the wind grabs people’s attention. There are also regional differences. Strong winds cause e-commerce to drop in Atlanta, while shoppers in Chicago keep spending through the same conditions.

"Snow accounts for a small boost, with geographic variations. In cities with low snow totals, such as Austin, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina, even a little drags down sales as consumers focus on the weather. In cities such as New York and Seattle, snow prompts people to stay home and shop more online."

Bloomberg writes that "the findings could help brands and retailers predict shopper behavior more accurately, giving them a new tool as spending migrates online, Adobe said. The exact effects will depend on the exact weather conditions, of course, and the impact is sprinkled throughout the year. But Adobe estimates the cumulative total of sales sparked by bad weather outweighs Cyber Monday, the largest online shopping day of the year, which generated $11.3 billion last year."

KC's View:

The story also makes another good point that retailers who blame bad weather for poor results may lose that excuse.  Because there's no excuse for not having some sort of online option that can serve shoppers in a variety of need states.

I was talking to a west coast retailer with about a dozen stores recently, and they're sort of proud of the fact that they offer no online shopping options.  No pickup.  No delivery.  Nothing.  They're entitled to see lack of accessibility as a competitive advantage of course, but I'm not sure that this is a sustainable strategy.

Especially because, as it happens, they are located in a place where it rains. A lot.  The Adobe study suggests that not having any sort of online alternative could be more of a detriment than perhaps they know.