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For Most Retailers, a Holiday Performance That Transcends the COVID-19 Crisis

WWD

By: David Moin with contributions from Jean E. Palmieri, Kali Hays


Apparel lagged this holiday, although cozy pieces, activewear and sneakers did well.

After a holiday season with little festivity and no shortage of uncertainty, America’s retailers are feeling all right.

While the pandemic has decimated shopping inside “nonessential” stores and has put millions out of work, digital sales have skyrocketed, and foot traffic at mass chains, big-box category killers, warehouse clubs, groceries and pharmacies all deemed “essential” was strong during the holidays. It was a hardlines Christmas, for sure, with home, electronics and appliances outperforming soft goods, although activewear, sneakers and cozy apparel were exceptions. . . .

. . . According to Evan Gold of Planalytics, the snowstorm a week before Christmas “got people into a Christmas mind-set and was great for all the seasonable businesses, citing ice melts, snow blowers, boots, sweaters, gloves and hats, heaters, blankets, firewood, bird feeders, soup, hot chocolate, coffee and other comfort foods.

“For anyone looking to clear those products, the storm was well timed. That storm was pretty well forecasted up to a week out. People buy based on what’s forecasted in the weather, as much as when the weather actually happens.”

He said retailers benefited by this December being colder than December 2019, with below freezing temperatures widespread, particularly for Boxing Day and the week ensuing, supporting post Christmas clearances and gift card redemptions.

“Mother Nature has been volatile, but the weather very, very rarely repeats itself,” Gold said. . . .

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