Tracking the summer break: how the sun affects productivity.

Over the past weeks, you probably realized that highways are not so crowded anymore, public transports are punctual and spacious, you get less calls during business hours and business in general seems to slow down. Most people spend time outside, wandering through shopping streets or picnicking in parks. These all are symptoms of the summer break, or, as some newspapers call it: “the summer slump”.

It is a phenomenon that has been known for centuries. More recently, its duration has been narrowed down from the beginning of July to the beginning of September.

Looking at the United States of America, the US national holiday on July 4th traditionally marks the start of the summer season for Americans. This only ends on the first Monday of September, Labor Day, which is also the last day of the summer vacation for the American students.

In Europe, almost all countries also have their school holidays between July and August. Those holidays obviously have an effect on parent’s time off during that period. Europe’s diverse cultural landscape also accounts for numerous public holidays across the continent. Turkey even shuts down most of its business for a whole week in July during Bayram.

Vacationing and public holidays lead the major expenditure streams of the general population into different directions. Revenue in tourism, leisure, and relaxation along with the whole network of supply chain partners gets intensely fueled during this time.

As the ratio of fully vaccinated people is increasing over the past weeks, we are seeing the return of this cyclic pattern. In their latest blog post, Hubspot analyzed the web traffic of 103,000 businesses from April to July and split it up by region and industry sectors (see figure 1a und 1b). You can see a noticeable increase in hospitality as all other sectors experience a slight decline.

Figure 1a: Web traffic of 103,000 businesses from April to July. Source: Hubspot (2021).
Figure 1b: Web traffic of 103,000 businesses from April to July. Source: Hubspot (2021).



Besides web traffic, companies operating in B2B related industries, especially in manufacturing, usually observe a drop in their sales. One can see a first indicator that the cycle also continues this year. Looking at weekly transactional traffic that is generated on CheMondis, the pressure has been taken off the markets finally – delayed however but in accordance with 2020 (see figure 2).

Figure 2: Weekly transactional traffic on CheMondis.

If less people are trading, the overall volume of traded shares is relatively lower. Lower trade volumes result in less market volatility and the stock market appears slack.

Statistically, this can be proven by looking at the relative trade volumes per month averaged over the S&P500 since 1950. Trade volumes see a low point in July. The German stock exchange even issued a “Seasonal DAX” that follows the DAX, but ignores the months of August and September.

And with this strategy, an investor would have scored 72,000 points and would have achieved a performance of an astonishing 13.4% pa (instead of “only” 8.2% pa for the real DAX).

Figure 3a: Monthly relative trade volumes of S&P500 (averaged over 1950-2020). Source: Stockstreet (2021).
Figure 3b: Seasonal DAX that values for August and September. Source: Stockstreet (2021).



Since the stock market doesn’t necessarily reflect the real world, we should evaluate data that shows the productivity and economic output. When looking at the production volume index published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, you will clearly see that August is usually the month with the lowest production volume. September, on the other hand, usually sees the highest rate change.

Figure 4: Production volume index from 2010 till 2021. Source: Eurostat.



The overall productivity of employees also decreases by 20 percent as a study by Captivate Office Pulse finds. Research from the Harvard Business School explains this drop in productivity with the better weather conditions. Dull weather encourages people to be more productive since they aren’t getting cognitively distracted.

However, it is hard to get anything done when decision-makers are not reachable. A lot of smaller companies even completely close their production lines for a few weeks, most chemical manufacturers in Italy even completely close their factory gates in August.

Now It Is Up to You.

When everyone returns to normal office hours, things will start to pick up again. As the Eurostat and CheMondis marketplace data suggests, we can assume a significant increase in traffic from mid-September onwards.

A great way to be aware of the latest trends in the market is the CheMondis Market Insights.

We aggregate and analyze internal and external data on e.g. search volumes, product availabilities and prices, to compute our CheMondis Index, a relative index from 0 to 100, based on our proprietary and validated algorithms.

It is a sub summation of a wide variety of market indicators representing the current market situation for selected key chemicals.

It is easy to understand and will help you to obtain better negotiation results and to make smarter purchasing decisions. The CheMondis Index is based on real-time market data and therefore is superior in quality and accuracy compared to traditional market research.


Even though the logistic situation remains tensed, as shipping rates are still at an all-time high, the raw materials shortage has been slightly balanced-out and a lot of products are back in stock. Make sure to check CheMondis regularly to get the best quotes for your requests.

We wish all companies a good start to business after the summer break!

SOURCES:

  • Stockstreet (2021). Dem Sommerloch auf der Spur.
  • Finanzmarktwelt (2021). Aktien: Wann beginnt in diesem Jahr das Sommerloch?
  • Captivate Network (2021). Captivate Office Pulse Finds Summer Hours are Bad for Business.
  • Nobel, C. Harvard Business School. Blue Skies, Distractions Arise: How Weather Affects Productivity.
  • Hubspot (2021). Are Companies Seeing Summer Slumps in 2021? We Analyzed 103,000 Businesses to Find Out.
  • Eurostat (2021). Short-term business statistics.