By Sarah Moses, Tufts University
With the coming of spring, my thoughts shift to the outdoors. Our family garden provides fresh food for many summer meals and is also a source of pride for our family.
As a gardener, and as a Weatherlift summer intern, I sought be better understand how weather (both short term and seasonal) impacts demand for gardening tools and equipment. I examined demand for gardening equipment and information in five major metropolitan areas (New York City, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami) between May 1st, 2011 and July 31st, 2011.
To a large extent, demand is seasonal. Across all geographies, peak demand occurs in the spring, especially in northern climates that do not have the benefit of year-round warmth – the growing season in New York, Chicago, and Boston lasts from May to October while the growing season in Miami and Los Angeles starts in March and can extend through November.
When we examined the correlation between temperature and demand in New York, Chicago, and Boston, we found a significant negative correlation (-.61, -.44, and -.42 respectively). As temperatures rise in the summer months, demand diminishes. The correlation was much smaller in Miami and Los Angeles (-.13 and -.31 respectively).
Demand vs. Temperature in New York City
Demand vs. Temperature in Los Angeles
Looking outside of the period from May to July, we found that rising springtime temperatures do trigger increases in demand. We found a strong positive correlation in Q1 (January 1, 2011 – March 31, 2011) and a negative correlation in Q2 (April 1, 2011 – June 30, 2011).
Full Year Demand vs. Temperature in New York City
Because the onset of warm weather varies from geography to geography, it is in the best interest of gardening supply companies to coordinate their marketing efforts to match the onset of spring in any geography which they serve.
Short Term Variation
Shorter-term weather conditions, notably wind and cloud cover, do impact demand for gardening equipment or information and information in all five geographies from May 1 to July 31, 2011.
Gardening is an activity that does not lend itself to uncomfortably hot or humid weather. We discovered that on the most unpleasant days (with the least amount of wind and cloud cover), there is less demand.
When all geographies were examined in aggregate, we found a significant positive correlation (0.44) between the wind speed and demand. On windier days, demand rises.
Gardening Demand vs. Wind
When all geographies were examined in aggregate, we also found a positive correlation between cloud cover and demand (.28). As cloud cover increases, so too does demand for gardening equipment.