Fast fashion brands have been defying the traditional four fashion seasons for decades, as products make their way to consumers faster than ever. Some online retailers now introduce 1000s of products every week, blurring the once clearly defined transitions between summer and autumn, winter and spring.

But will climate change make seasonal shopping a thing of the past? In the UK, the Met Office predicts that country will see an increasing number of warm spells and a declining number of cold spells, leading to warmer and wetter winters and hotter, drier summers – due to climate change.

Most recently, a number of apparel companies cited unseasonable weather as a key factor in their financial performance in Q3 2023, as most of Europe experienced a warmer-than-usual start to autumn, when consumers would usually be purchasing coats, jackets and jumpers.

In November, UK retailer Next reported “variable” sales growth in Q3 2023, which it attributed to changing weather conditions across the quarter.

In September, UK e-tailer Asos reported that wet weather in July and August had dampened sales, particularly in its home market in Q4 2023, leading to a 15% drop in sales overall.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for September 2023 also revealed a 1.6% fall in clothing sales in the UK, as consumers put off shopping for warmer clothing due to the unseasonable weather.

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By GlobalData

The trend is not limited to the UK, with Swedish fashion giant H&M also reporting that sales in Q3 2023 were negatively impacted by an “unusually warm” September in its key European markets. It says the unseasonable weather conditions caused consumers to delay the start of the autumn shopping season.

Mentions of “unseasonable weather” in apparel company filings 2019-2023

Source: GlobalData

Company filings data by GlobalData suggests the keyword “unseasonable weather” has become a key theme in apparel company filings. The term has been mentioned 72 times in apparel company filings in 2023 so far, up from just nine mentions in 2019.

In 2023 so far, the term has been mentioned more often than other key themes including “consumer confidence”, which has been mentioned 18 times, and “climate change”, which has been mentioned 20 times.

In response to unseasonable weather, many apparel retailers resort to discounting in order to shift unwanted stock.

In response to the ONS figures in October, EY’s UK and Ireland lead Silvia Rindone said: “The increasingly unpredictable nature of the weather is something retailers will need to manage. There are currently high levels of unseasonal stock across the whole sector, which may lead to increased discounting in the lead-up to Black Friday as retailers look to stimulate sluggish demand among shoppers.”

Our signals coverage is powered by GlobalData’s Thematic Engine, which tags millions of data items across six alternative datasets — patents, jobs, deals, company filings, social media mentions and news — to themes, sectors and companies. These signals enhance our predictive capabilities, helping us to identify the most disruptive threats across each of the sectors we cover and the companies best placed to succeed.