Snowstorm Delays Post-Christmas Action
By Tom Ryan
The blizzard that struck the Northeast on the day after Christmas,
typically the third or fourth busiest shopping day of the year, left many industry
prognosticators speculating on whether greater markdowns would be forthcoming
for the retail industry.
Parts of New York and New Jersey received as much as
two feet of snow, keeping many shoppers at home. Several
stores closed early Sunday evening as weather conditions worsened and delayed
openings on Monday.
The day after Christmas is largely known for returns but stores put additional
merchandise on sale to drive incremental purchases. They also hope clearance
sales will be scooped up during the day to avoid the need for steeper promotions
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Richard Jaffe, an analyst
at Stifel Nicolaus, predicted that Sunday’s major snowstorm could hurt December
same-store sales by 1 percent to 1.5 percent. The last week of December contributes
about 15 percent to 20 percent of overall December sales, and just under one-third
of national retail sales take place in the snow-hit areas, Mr. Jaffe said.
Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group, told Bloomberg News that
promotions may be extended into January.
"It’s like throwing a party and
nobody comes because the focus has gone from post-holiday shopping to post-holiday
travel," said Mr. Cohen. "Look
for sales to be repeated by retailers. They’re going to be more aggressive.
They’ve got to throw another party."
On the positive side, the storm’s
arrival in the early afternoon at least led to strong morning sales. Craig
Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, also told Bloomberg that
customers will likely just come back over the next few days to return merchandise
or redeem gift cards.
Pete Nordstrom, president of merchandising at Nordstrom
Inc. told the Journal said
he wasn’t overly concerned about the blizzard although the day after Christmas
generally ranks as one of the retailer’s top-10 days.
"It seems like there’s always some bad weather somewhere," Mr. Nordstrom
said. "We don’t really get too caught up in it, because we have absolutely
no control over it."
The blizzard came as a surprise. Forecasts in the
affected regions over the days prior called for a dusting to a moderate snowstorm.
Discussion Questions: How critical is the day after Christmas to a successful
holiday period? What impact do you think the Northeast blizzard will have
on December’s sales? Should or can retailers be planning better for storms
and other weather incidents?
- US Retailers’ Post-Christmas Sales Hit By Snowstorm – The
Wall Street Journal
Retailers Hurt as Snowstorm Thwarts Shoppers – Bloomberg News
- Retailers roll out sales as snow hits East Coast – Associated Press
Heats Up Sales for Snow Gear – The Wall Street Journal