The final part of the calendar year, also known in shorthand as Q4 2016, is the peak season for the majority of businesses in the UK. Between October and December businesses of all shapes and sizes are preparing for the final 5 weeks before Christmas, when consumption and purchasing goes through the roof.
Taking the UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures for 2015, the biggest leap is actually between quarter 2 and quarter 3, but Q4 is still the highest period of output at just over £450 billion.
It can take a seemingly innocuous element to significantly affect profits in this pivotal period.
In recent years our winter shopping habits have been affected by the transatlantic phenomenon of Black Friday. The last week of November is always a busy point for UK retail because for many it is the last payday before the Christmas break. Black Friday means a lot more purchasing activity is funnelled into a couple of days.
Environmental Factors Affecting Peak Season
Unseasonal weather can affect trade in the winter months. As clothing retailers stock up on winter coats and knitwear, there is a certain threshold of cold weather that is relied upon for this stock to sell. Previous Autumn/Winter seasons have been less than successful for the retail sector as warmer weather reduces the demand for items ranging from windscreen de-icers and snow shovels to thinker duvets and winter clothing.
This is not only detrimental for the retailer, but it affects the fortunes of the supply chain industry. There is always a knock-on effect whenever one business sector has a significant change in figures.
Most imports for the peak retail season have already been completed, as suppliers and wholesalers prepare their customers’ seasonal intake. However, typical payment terms for the big retailers are between 30 and 90 days, so they may still have to wait until the retail buzz is underway before harvesting their business.