How the Myth of a White Christmas Affects Your Business

Snowy pathway for white Christmas - How the Myth of a White Christmas Affects Your Business

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” a popular carol begins, and your mind is filled with images of picturesque cottages covered in white snow. In fact, the majority of our Christmas songs and films tell stories of snow-covered trees and children making snowmen. But have you ever stopped to think about the last time you actually saw a white Christmas? Climate change has resulted in the coldest months of the year now moving towards February and March [1], and actually seeing snow on Christmas Day is exceedingly unlikely to happen. So why do we continue to associate Christmas with snow? And—more importantly—what effect does a warm Christmas have on business?

The Origin of the Myth

During the time-period from 1600-1870, Europe went through a period that is now known as the Little Ice Age [2]. During that time-period, winters were, on average, 2?C colder than they are today. These chilling winters were characterized by rivers – and even the Baltic Sea – freezing so solidly that you could drive a sleigh over them. In fact, winters lasted so long back then that there was widespread crop failure and even famine.

Towards the end of the Little Ice Age, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. The instant classic was filled with imagery of snow-covered streets and brutally cold days which aligned with Dickens’ personal experience at the time. With the book’s widespread popularity came the association of Christmas with snow – an association that has continued to this day.

Actual Likelihood of a White Christmas in the UK

Today, the Little Ice Age is a couple of hundred years behind us and seeing snow on Christmas Day rarely happens. In fact, it has only happened 4 times in the last 51 years in the UK [1], with the most recent widespread white Christmas occurring in 2010.

So, while we can dream of waking up on Christmas morning to snow-covered gardens and icicles hanging from the eaves, in all likelihood, this Christmas will be as temperate as the last eight Christmases have been.

The Effect of a White Christmas on Business

While the idea of a green Christmas can be disappointing on a personal level, it can be doubly upsetting for business owners who understand that sales are lower during warm Christmas seasons [3] this could change with the opening up after our second lockdown following the pandemic. We all know that supermarkets have survived very well given the recent pandemic and whether the weather is warm or colder selling weather-related items will sell well.

There are some upsides to a warm Christmas when it comes to retailers. For one thing, warm weather makes shopping more pleasant, meaning you may see an increase in foot traffic [3] over colder years. Understanding how spending changes during warm years can help you make the most out of a more temperate Christmas season.

Spending Still Occurs

Whether it’s a cold winter or a warm winter, people will still be putting presents under a tree this year. The difference, when it comes to your business, is what customers may be interested in buying. Diversifying your offerings can help you keep your sales up even when the weather outside isn’t frightful. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your business this winter:

– Create end caps in-store with easy-to-grab festive gift ideas for those people who tend to be hard to shop for

– Decorate your business to make it feel like Christmas indoors even if it doesn’t feel like it outdoors

– Send emails to your customers inviting them to your shop on warm days when the weather is clear [4]

– Promote gifts that are useful year-round instead of promoting gifts that are only useful in the winter

So, in conclusion

A mild winter doesn’t have to spell doom for your business. Though projections so far seem to anticipate that this Christmas season will be as mild and snow-free as the  last one, keeping an eye on the weather as the season continues and adjusting your marketing methods accordingly can ensure your Christmas season is profitable despite the White Christmas Myth working against you.

 

Sources:

[1] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/christmas/0/white-christmas-2019-will-snow-uk-latest-odds/

 

[2] https://www.eh-resources.org/timeline-middle-ages/#targetText=The%20Little%20Ice%20Age%20is,continuing%20until%20the%20late%201400s.

 

[3] https://business.weather.com/blog/mild-weather-christmas-retail

 

[4] https://www.retaildoc.com/blog/how-to-leverage-the-weather-to-market-your-store-and-grow-your-retail-holiday-sales

 

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