Out with the juicer, in with the crockpot as winter drops


A change in the weather prompts a change in shopping habits

Winter has arrived after what felt like a summer that would never end.

The unusually warm weather in April and early May influenced our shopping habits. So too has the arrival of the cold weather.

Retailers say sales of winter related products have leaped over the past week to ten days.

The Warehouse says there has been a lift in sales of heaters and blankets, along with warmer clothing such as jackets, merino items and knitwear.

Farmers says it has also seen a surge in the sales of winter clothing, including thermal underwear.

Retail analysts say you typically expect the buying of winter items to have started earlier.

Shoes are an example. The April retail numbers showed that shoe sales were down on the previous April.

This suggests that people were not rushing to buy winter shoes yet. Retailers will now be counting on a large uptick in shoe purchases.

Economists say there are also reports of larger stockpiles of winter clothing.

The late start to the winter could pose problems for retailers. Weaker purchases of winter clothing through the middle of May might not have been offset by a spike in sales of summer clothing.

Nor are retailers guaranteed to be able to make up for the lost sales later in the winter season.

This raises the potential problem of having to move a larger amount of unsold stock at the end of winter.

Retailers plan their end of season sales well in advance. But they do not want to have to sell too much stock at a discounted price.

It's not just clothing that is impacted by the changes in the weather.

Farmers says its stores have seen a surge in purchases of slow cookers in the past week. Prior to that the stores were seeing strong buying of juicing machines.

Countdown supermarkets report that purchases of chilled juice, ice-cream and salads extended for a longer period of time than expected.

Both the sun-care and pest treatment 'seasons' extended much longer than usual as well.

Soup sales have been a bit "sluggish" but are expected to pick up.

The warm weather has also meant a late start to the flu season, with the cough and cold-care categories both down compared to the same time a year ago.

Tomatoes were impacted by the warmer temperatures earlier in the season, which brought the growing season forward. Countdown says this meant plenty of stock in January and February, but lower stock levels at the end of the season.

The change in the weather patterns also influences the meats that people buy.

The Mad Butcher Group's operations manager Dan Adams says with the warmer weather people want to spend more time outside with family and friends. That means they buy meats that can be cooked on a barbecue, like steaks, sausages, chicken pieces, butterfly lamb legs, split chickens and burger patties.

Those cuts of meat generally require less cooking time.

But as the nights get colder and turn darker earlier Mr Adams says the choices of meat change - and so do the cooking times.

He says that in winter the foot traffic in the Mad Butcher stores drops off between 5-30 and 6pm.

That is because people want to get home.

They opt for food like soups, casseroles and stews. Many of those meals involve cheaper cuts of meat. But they also require longer cooking time.

That is why crock-pots and slow cookers are popular in winter and why sales of those products have increased in recent days.

Butchers are not just seeing a seasonal change in shopping habits, but a generational change as well.

Dan Adams says pork belly, pork spare ribs, beef spare ribs and lamb shanks were cuts of meat that were not that popular ten years ago. But now they are.

He believes people are becoming more adventurous with their cooking, partly due to the popularity of TV cooking shows.


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