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What People Really Want Before Big Storms

Christina Medici Scolaro
Big Data Download

Before a snowstorm, hurricane or any severe weather event, most retailers can expect certain items to sell out quickly. Knowing what consumers are looking for can help a retailer stock its shelves with the right inventory.

Marketing firm Interactions analyzed data collected from Google BigQuery—an analysis tool—and Tableau—analytics software—to identify how severe weather events influence shoppers’ behavior. The study looked at snowstorms over a three year period.

The study found that if weather reports called for a storm one week ahead of time, people still waited until the day before to do their event-specific shopping.

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Grocery sales tend to spike up to three days before a storm hits. Sales rose 68 percent the day before the event, 79 percent two days before the event and about 12 percent three days prior to the event over 2010.

Looking at the subcategories, the study uncovered the fact that over 2010, sales of canned meat jumped 182 percent one day prior to storm events. Condensed soup sales spiked almost 80 percent, cracker snacks jumped 51 percent and produce sales jumped almost 70 percent.

Perhaps not surprisingly, alcohol sales also tend to spike, rising by 107 percent one day before storms.

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