A Tough Year: What Impact Did Weather Have on Zoo Attendance in 2018 (So Far)

The release of AZA’s recent mid-year earned revenue survey revealed that zoos all around the country experienced declines in year-over-year attendance in the first six months of 2018. In response to the report, Zoo Advisors conducted an analysis of historical temperature and precipitation data around the country in an attempt to quantify the impact of rain and heat on zoo attendance.

While the data do indicate an overall upwards trend in temperature and precipitation, on an aggregate basis, there does not appear to be a direct correlation between the weather and attendance. While temperatures were higher and there was increased precipitation over previous years in some weather regions, this was not the case in all regions, and the areas where there were the highest increases in precipitation did not necessarily correlate to the biggest declines in attendance.

One important consideration is that the data was analyzed in aggregate for the spring and summer and did not take into account specific timing of unfavorable weather, such as rain or unusual heat on typically high-volume days such as weekends or holidays. We suspect that a more detailed analysis of day-by-day weather might reveal a more nuanced finding here, but the anecdotal observation that the first six months of 2018 were markedly hotter and wetter across the board does not appear to be supported by the data.

If any organizations are interested in learning more about how weather impacts their day-to-day attendance, please email zwinfield@zooadvisors.com and we will be happy to discuss a custom analysis.

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