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NOAA Data Helps Retail and Manufacturing Business Minimize Impacts from Weather and Climate

Photo of down jackets in a retail clothing store
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From making sure warm winter coats are in stock at just the right time to accurately evaluating the underlying causes of fluctuations in the U.S. economy, NCEI’s environmental data provide critical information for retailers, manufacturers, and the companies that invest in them. As industries that are highly sensitive to changing weather conditions, retail and manufacturing businesses rely on our climate data to asses how weather has influenced their past sales. By understanding the past, these business can also better plan for the future.

Weather’s Influence on the Retail Supply Chain

Weather can affect every step of the retail supply chain, from the supplier, to the manufacturer, to the distributor, to the retailer, to consumer purchases. As the seasons change, manufacturers may need to produce different machine parts for equipment like lawn mowers and snow blowers. Similarly, retailers may need to shift the stock of seasonal items like hot cocoa and sandals as temperatures and weather conditions fluctuate.

In the winter, in particular, the weather can dramatically influence economic activity related to the manufacturing and retail industries. A severe snowstorm may keep consumers from shopping at retail stores and dining at restaurants. And, winter weather can prevent goods from getting to market too. For example, when a major snowstorm caused a single-day shutdown in New York, it resulted in $152 million in lost sales. However, major snowstorms can be profitable for online retailers and the automotive repair industry.

Since they account for $3.2 trillion or 17 percent of the U.S. GDP and an estimated 22 million jobs collectively, the performance of the manufacturing and retail industries is a top indicator of economic well-being. With the right data, manufacturers, retailers, and the companies that invest in them can understand and measure how weather is influencing their bottom lines and the country’s economy.

Insight into the Value of Environmental Data

NCEI’s data are a crucial source of credible and authoritative information for a wide variety of businesses in the retail and manufacturing industries according to an April 2017 report. The report, which compiles feedback from companies in these industries, demonstrates how our climate data products are used to understand the effect of certain weather conditions on business performance. Pairing this information with climate outlooks can then inform how much product to manufacture or how to stock items in various regions of the country.

“We use the NCEI climate data reports when we're reviewing month-over-month and then year-over-year results from our sales territories,” said one company’s sales manager. “If we lost the NCEI climate data, I'd have to go back to the old sales guy excuse of ‘I didn't make my number because it rained.’ I'm not really willing to go there.”

Data Products Businesses Can Use

Some of our data products that provide real-world value to the retail and manufacturing industries include:

All of these products help monitor and assess the state of Earth’s climate in near–real time and provide perspectives on how the climate of today compares to the past.

Learn more about how retail and manufacturers are using our data and why it’s so important to them in the video, The Benefit of NCEI Data to Retail and Manufacturing.