Many retailers blamed the polar vortex cold snap in early January for a nearly 10 percent decrease in nationwide sales, despite our era shifting into online shopping. With yet another winter flurry sweeping the East this week, it’s natural to ask, how much does temperature affect consumer spending?
Quite a bit, a Harvard Business Review study published Wednesday suggests. In the study, customers were 46 percent more likely to buy an item online when daily temperatures averaged 77 degrees Fahrenheit versus 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperatures in a store or home affected consumer behavior similarly. People in a warm room were willing to pay more than those in a cool room for nine out of 11 items shown to them. Some participants were willing to pay 36 percent more for items while holding warm therapeutic pads versus cool pads.
According to the researchers, people associate exposure to physical warmth with the concept of emotional warmth, tending to view the product positively and assign it a higher value than they would have without the warmth. They cite prior research that related greater positive feelings to reduced distance.
Yonat Zwebner of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Leonard Lee of Columbia, and Jacob Goldenberg of the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel contributed to the study, titled “The Temperature Premium: Warm Temperatures Increase Product Valuation.”