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Cold Stormy Weather Clobbers Retail

WWD

By: David Moin with contributions from Rosemary Feitelberg


Massive numbers of stores and malls were closed Tuesday due to freezing temperatures and dangerous road conditions.

Snow, ice, sub-freezing temperatures and power outages paralyzed a large swathe of U.S. retailing on Tuesday, through the South and the Heartland.

Texas was hit the hardest, where 4.4 million people were without power Tuesday due to the icy storm that pummeled the Pacific Northwest over the weekend and then spread eastward.

Stores were also forced to close in such states as Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Louisiana. . . .

. . . Because of the surge in demand for heat, there were rolling blackouts through Texas on Monday and Tuesday to try to conserve energy, but they were often a lot longer than people expected, and many were flat out power failures. Temperatures fell to zero degrees Fahrenheit Monday night. Snow was also expected Tuesday night.

According to Planalytics, a firm that provides weather intelligence to help retailers in their planning, temperatures in Dallas this week will be below freezing for most of the week, averaging 30 degrees colder than the same week last year. “Individual days will be more extreme. For example, yesterday [Monday], temps in Dallas topped out at 19 degrees Fahrenheit which was 58 degrees colder than the same day last year,” said Evan Gold, executive vice president, global partnerships and alliances at Planalytics.

“The balance of this week will be much colder than normal in Dallas. It’s not going to get above freezing until Saturday or Sunday,” Gold said. “The storm that hit Texas will move up to the Northeast. It will skirt New York City a little bit, but there will be rain, snow and ice in the Northeast.”

According to Planalytics, this week weather-driven demand in Dallas pushed sales of thermals and outerwear up 100 to 150 percent; hot cocoa up 124 percent; blankets, up 91 percent; antifreeze, up 54 percent; winter boots, up 51 percent; soup, up 40 percent, and auto batteries, up 37 percent. However, short-sleeve shirts were down 61 percent, and lawn and garden care fell 86 percent.

In New York City, the weather-driven demand for windshield wiper blades rose 38 percent; winter boots rose 11 percent; hats and gloves rose 7 percent, and canned chili was up 6 percent.

Nationally, weather-driven demand for snow removal products this week rose 103 percent; windshield de-icers, up 60 percent; heaters up 31 percent; firewood, up 27 percent, and thermals, up 20 percent. . . .

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