“The Goldilocks zone”

03 November 2017, 04:07 am
Expert Eye by John Shepherd

What has trading been like so far in 2017 at Partridges? The answer is on the whole not very good. Nothing to write home about or even an article about

There have been moments, of course. Easter was better this year and Saturday July 1st was possibly the best non- December Day we have ever had according to my records. However, apart from a few peaks there have been an unpleasant occurrence of troughs. The reason why July 1st hit the heights is not entirely clear. The weather was alright at first glance – partly cloudy and 22 degrees centigrade but not a scorcher. However, this time of the year is what we at Partridges now call the Goldilocks zone. A time with temperatures of between 20 degrees to 25 degrees centigrade without rain and with the key component of bursts of sunshine and national events to lift the spirit. It’s also not Christmas but still all forms of speciality food can exist and thrive.

The Goldilocks effect is reflected in our food market too. Fish and chips, paella and burgers flourish but so do the chocolate artisans and the pastry chefs. Anything above 25 degrees and the desire to consume hot food diminishes as does the desire to consume chocolate. Anything below 20 degrees generally means the weather is on the dull side and there is less of an appetite to buy.

The timing of July 1st reflects this. The end of the school term is in sight. It is usually halfway through Wimbledon and several British players may still be in the competition. We tend to have a lot of catering orders and picnics to prepare. It is also not too hot for tempers to get frayed or fridges to break down, nor too cold for alcohol and ice cream to lose their attraction. The problem with 2017 is that there have been not enough Goldilocks Days compared to last year.

For example, a recent visit to the Met Office website has revealed the following information. January was colder by 2 degrees and wetter than average. Our sales were 2% down. February was slightly warmer than average but with 79% less sunshine and our sales were 1% down. However, the Goldilocks effect then started to kick in. March brought a temperature above average, sunshine above average and rainfall below average and our sales were 5% up. April was one of the driest Aprils on record with half the average rainfall and increased average sunshine and our sales were 8% up. May was one of the warmest on record but rainfall was above average and our sales were 5% up. June had its hottest day since 1976 at 34.5 degrees but it was one of the wettest on record and our sales were up by 6%. July had twice the average rainfall with lower sunshine levels and an average temperature and our sales were 1% down. August was cloudy, cool and showery and our sales were 3% down. However, September had a lower than average temperature, lower than average sunshine and below average rainfall and we bucked the trend by being 2% up. Perhaps this is the exception that proves the rule.

It is also typical that whenever you think you’ve spotted a rule, trend or pattern, something annoying pops up to disprove it. Thank you September.

However, one thought remains – that speciality food shopping is often as much of an emotional decision as it is a rational one.

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