What meteorologists have to say about retailers’ ‘bad weather’ excuse

It’s the excuse that retailers seem to use no matter what time of year it is: “Unseasonal” weather is to blame for results falling short.

But retailers shouldn’t use that excuse for too much longer

“Many traditional retailers plan their buys based primarily on performance of products in the last season, making the implicit assumption that weather trends will be consistent year-over-year,” Credit Suisse wrote in a Tuesday note. “We think that more retailers are going to have to take a more proactive approach to merchandise planning so they can adapt, and even take advantage of, unseasonal weather.”

See also: 10 places to visit now before they’re ruined forever by global warming

Credit Suisse CS, -4.34%  spoke with three meteorologists — all of whom said that the academic scientific community “generally agrees” that climate change will likely cause more of the abnormal weather that retailers are highlighting — and offered suggestions for how retailers can get around the weather:

• Take a lesson from off-price retailers and “leave some open-to-buy later in the season.”

• Collaborate with vendors in order to operate more like fast-fashion retailers (brands like Forever 21 and H&M) and speed up the supply chain, particularly for private labels.

• Focus on areas that aren’t so dependent on the weather, like home goods and intimates.

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The note cites as an example J.C. Penney Co. Inc. JCP, -0.89%  , which is testing a private label, Belle + Sky, that operates like a fast-fashion brand.

See also: J.C. Penney upgraded on turnaround strategy that steers away from apparel

In addition, J.C. Penney, along with retailers including Urban Outfitters Inc. URBN, -1.35%   and Target Corp. TGT, -0.17%  , have all said that, with consumer focus turning to home goods, they too will shift their attention.

See also: Since no one is buying clothes, here’s what stores are selling instead

“Rolling out the umbrella stand to the front of a store when it’s raining is an old-world example of how retailers have traditionally coped with ‘abnormal’ weather,” the note said. “Retailers need to adopt this type of strategy more broadly to their business.”

See also: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef threatened by coral bleaching

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