Urban Planning 101: More people are out when it’s sunny

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Couple enjoying sun in Occidental Park.

Man’s relationship with the sun is primal—especially in Seattle. People will find chairs and places to sit or stand to enjoy its warmth. Every day/all day, chairs in cafes are turned according to the sun. Pedestrians follow sunny sidewalks and well lit public squares. They alternate between sun and shade. When there’s a farmer’s market out, vendors will try to keep the vegetables in the shade. Pedestrians will put on sunglasses—we are rumored to buy more here than anywhere else.

The sun helps sales. Sometimes customers come in to a shop to escape the sun, other times the shops lose customers to street vendors—who have more spatial flexibility. Interesting examples from Tapai and LA include roaming performance troupes that travel on a truck bed while disseminating sounds of their performance in the streets. Notice the loudspeaker that’s mounted on top of the mobile mini shrine.

nakashi-truck

Another interesting thing to consider is what people buy when it’s sunny compared to when it’s raining. A team of IBM analytics experts noticed that on rainy days customers were more likely to purchase cakes, while on sunny days the choice food was paninis. Small businesses can’t guess the success of their inventory by looking at the weather and sales reports separately, but together, they can uncover a new outcome. Now the bakery knows what to bake based on the weather forecast.

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