Retailers lost $1 billion, thanks to blizzard

Shot of cars buried by the snow of the East Coast blizzard.

The East Coast Blizzard of 2010 left many shoppers and commuters stranded. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Mariordo/Wikipedia)

The massive East Coast blizzard that has crippled the northeastern U.S. of late has made life difficult for many people, retailers included. According to CNN Money, retailers that were hoping for lots of shopper traffic to take advantage of after-Christmas sales and boost retail sales received a rude awakening. Because the blizzard kept shoppers at home, it has been projected that retailers lost approximately $1 billion in after-Christmas sales.

Retail sales buried by blizzard

According to ShopperTrak, a company that records retail sales and shopper traffic at more than 70,000 stores and malls, the Dec. 26 walk up shopper traffic was 11.2 percent lower than had been predicted, and the East Coast blizzard is considered the culprit. Overall, shopping traffic in the Northeast was down 6.1 percent the day after Christmas, while the following day was even worse, as thousands were completely snowbound and couldn’t  commute or travel.

Bill Martin, the founder of ShopperTrak, pointed out that the East Coast blizzard “halted nearly all retail visits and spending” at the worst possible time for retailers.

Walk-up shopper traffic much lower than last year

According to ShopperTrak figures, Dec. 27 retail shopping traffic was down a whopping 42.9 percent when compared with last year. The projected loss of $1 billion in sales will not bode well for retailers who are struggling to maintain the bottom line. While Martin and others hold out hope that the weather will clear and retailers will see more of the numbers they were expecting, there exists a great deal of uncertainty.

Will online retail sales be enough to counter the blizzard effect?

Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst with the NPD Group, told CNN that “the loss of post-Christmas weekend is brutal” for retailers. He is unsure as to whether retailers will be able to pick up the blizzard slack in stores, although online retail sales more than likely experienced a welcome bump, thanks to snowbound shoppers.

The two-year retail sales slump brought on by the recession had lessened somewhat this year, in large part due to big Black Friday numbers. The East Coast blizzard effect is an unwelcome slowdown. Cohen predicts it will take retailers two to three weeks to regain sales momentum.


CNN Money

The retail chill

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