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Big Chill May Have Benefited Retailers

Big Chill May Have Benefited Retailers

FEBRUARY 17, 2016

Women’s Wear Dailiy
By:  SHARON EDELSON

The blast of Arctic air that blew through the Midwest and Northeast last weekend did little to deter shoppers, who braved the cold despite temperatures that dipped below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Experts said the frigid weather may, in fact, have had the counterintuitive effect of sending consumers out-of-doors to seek refuge in shopping malls.

“This was winter’s coldest blast so far. It was cold and it was dry on Saturday and Sunday, which was great for mall traffic,” said Evan Gold, senior vice president of client services at Planalytics, which analyzes the impact of weather on businesses. “It was too cold to do anything outside. People wanted to get to their destinations. Any indoor activity from the movies to mall shopping benefited.”

Gold, who visited the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania, noted that February isn’t the highest-volume month of the year. Yet the center “was crowded to the point where it looked like Christmas. It was a great week to clear winter-related items. A bunch of apparel specialty stores had ample inventory of winter products.”

“Short Hills saw strong traffic all weekend long,” said Mike McAvinue, general manager of the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey, adding that traffic was up significantly over the same period last year.

Westfarms Mall in West Hartford, Conn., saw much of the same phenomenon, citing Valentine’s Day and the exceptionally cold weather, a spokeswoman for Taubman Centers said.

“Despite the cold weather, shoppers were out there,” said Lou Amendola, chief merchandising officer of Brooks Brothers. “We saw a strong performance in spring full-price purchases, including our new women’s collection designed by Zac Posen. Consumers who were out this weekend shopping in the cold preferred to shop new spring arrivals rather than heavily discounted fall merchandise.”

Scoop shoppers were also inclined to buy apparel for warmer climes. “Our stores were packed this weekend,” said Susan Davidson, president and ceo of the specialty retailer. “As expected, outerwear and cold weather accessories were up almost 50 percent, but with the crowds, also came unexpectedly strong spring selling.” Davidson cited off-the-shoulder tops as an especially popular item.

“We had a very busy weekend,” said a store manager at Intermix on Rush Street in Chicago. “We’ve been lucky. It’s been a pretty mild winter so far. It snowed yesterday, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. Consumers were buying a little bit of both winter and spring products.”

A spokeswoman for Bloomingdale’s said the retailer’s cold-weather business has been “very strong.”

Kristina Hebda, manager of Joe’s Jeans at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., said, “Our store was pretty busy. The mall seemed busy with Valentine’s Day weekend and early Presidents’ Day sales. When it’s really cold out we see we have higher traffic because it’s warm in the mall.

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