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Winter Storms Steal Up to $2B in Sales

WWD
By Evan Clark

Planalytics said the back-to-back nor’easters have made shoppers “weather weary.”

The two nor’easters that buffeted the Northeast this past week scared off about $1.5 billion to $2 billion in sales for retailers, according to consultancy Planalytics.

“Consumers right now are ‘weather weary’ given the back-to-back nature of these late season storms,” said Evan Gold, executive vice president, global partnership and alliances.

While some of the retail disruption from storms simply delays sales, some purchases are just skipped altogether.

“Think about people who might purchase a cup of coffee on their way to work and will no longer make that purchase,” Gold said. “Their next trip into the coffee shop will not have two cups of coffee purchased to make up for the lost sale. It is truly lost business.”

This leads to restaurants being among the merchants hardest hit by the storms.

But specialty apparel and mall-based retailers are also seen as taking a hit even if the spring looks they didn’t sell during the storms are eventually bought when consumers make their way back to stores.

“The units will still go, but the profitability, the bottom-line impact, is very different,” Gold said. “The margin in the first week of March is different from the margin in the last week of March. So a delayed purchase, it still ends up being a purchase, but it’s not the same.”

Planalytics said weather-driven demand at outlet centers this week was down 2.3 percent for the U.S., but off 5.9 percent in the Northeast.

In general, Gold said retailers would face tough weather comparisons in the fiscal first quarter.

“Last year, we had a delayed spring in March and it rocketed in in April,” he said. “This year, the challenge is you’re probably not going to be as warm in April as you were last year.”

While Mother Nature takes away, she also gives, to merchants in the right spot.

The firm said e-commerce players, restaurant delivery services, on-demand services (that offer, for instance, movie streaming) and other services such as Uber would all benefit from the nasty weather.

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