What’s a Little Snow
By George Anderson
The blizzard of 2003 has passed, but the cleanup and the cost accounting continues.
Fortunately, according to a Reuters’ report, “The massive storms that paralyzed most of the U.S. Northeast may only have a temporary impact on local governments and retailers.”
Sal Guatieri, senior economist, Bank of Montreal/Harris Bank told Reuters, “We certainly will see a slowing of retail spending as a result of the snow, but not a huge impact. Many sales have been postponed to next week, so the storm won’t affect underlying economic trends.”
Moderator’s Comment: How can retailers maximize the
opportunities associated with weather events such as the blizzard that hit the
East this weekend?
We visited several grocery stores (A&P, Kings, Pathmark,
Shoprite, Stop & Shop and Trader Joe’s) in our little patch of New Jersey
over the weekend and found that all were, predictably, busy in advance of the
storm. Each was probably quite pleased with their final tally for the weekend.
We also discovered that most shoppers in those stores
were quite unhappy. This didn’t come as any great surprise since these shoppers
were jammed into crowded stores, waiting in long lines and dreading the shoveling
yet to come.
One of our stops had a different feel from the others.
We’ll leave it to you to determine which store we’re describing.
- A voice came over the store’s PA system, “Attention
_____ shoppers. We truly appreciate your business and all the money you are
spending with us today. But please, remember it is only a snow storm and not
the end of the world.”
- Coffee and product samples (strawberries freshly dipped
in chocolate) were available for shoppers on the store floor. Each checkout
had its own sample of a dessert item.
- A customer approaches a checkout with a sizeable quantity
of alcoholic beverages. The cashier looks at the customer, smiles and says,
“So, you’re hoping for what, three, four feet of snow.”
- A shopper asks a store associate if a “wine specialist”
can help him in making selections. The associate says yes, sees the manager
and says, “____, this gentleman needs some help with selecting the right wine.
Would you please get one of our winos to assist him.”
- A woman enters the store and walks directly to a checkout
with a cashier (male, no less) and says words to the effect, “I was in here
a couple of weeks ago. You suggested using your (private label) chutney as
a dip and a glaze on seafood. I finally made it last night and it was the
best thing. My family loved it.” Each of the next shoppers on line asked about
the product and how to prepare just as the woman shopper had described. [George
Anderson – Moderator]