Where will you be when the “Bomb Cyclone” hits? At the store, probably

The “Bomb Cyclone” caused a huge shopping surge, but, thanks to "business weather intelligence agencies," many retailers saw it coming.


January 9, 2018

Step aside, Polar Vortex, the Bomb Cyclone is this year’s coolest winter weather system, and that means one thing: everyone stocked up on pizza rolls and other cold-weather accoutrements for the big blizz’.

Last week, boots shot up 32% in the US’ Northeast (19% across the country), while hat, glove, and scarf sales jumped 65% regionally (44% nationally) — luckily, a lot of stores saw these spikes coming.

Retailers from Ace Hardware to Rite Aid employ “weather intelligence” firms to help them predict weather-based shopping surges, and navigate the fickle waters of supply and demand.

CIA, meet the WIA

AKA, “business weather intelligence agencies” that can predict consumer behavior down to the degree. 

For example, Weather Trends International knows that electric blanket purchases increase 24% per degree drop in temperature, while boots, coats, and sweaters jump by 5% per degree.

Some retailers even have their own in-house weather teams

UPS, IBM, and Waffle House, all have their own fully-staffed weather command centers to help them make buying decisions months in advance.

IBM’s team of 160 meteorologists, while UPS’ team of meteorologists work 24 hours a day during the week and stay on call for the weekends. 

Then there’s Waffle House, known for staying open through tornadoes and hurricanes, with a tiered weather response system so finely tuned that FEMA refers to “the Waffle House Index” to see where they should send resources during a storm.

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