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Snowstorms stall post-holiday shopping

A man carries a shopping bag two days before Christmas in Berlin, Germany.

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Here's hoping you're feeling the glow of a warm holiday, two days after a Christmas that left retailers
feeling better than they have in years. Many analysts figure the industry overall rang up its best holiday shopping results since 2007. But just when it all seemed to be going so well, came a storm dumping close to two feet of snow on many places, grounding planes, sidetracking trains and blocking many roads. As the snow and ice melt, retailers will likely offer special deals to get the buying momentum going again.

But as Marketplace's Janet Babin reports, it may have been a lost weekend, carried away on a Nor'easter wind.


Janet Babin: In the Northeast, today was a day for digging...

Sound of someone shoveling snow

And blowing...

Sound of snowblower

...Your way out of the snow.

Shopping? That was farther down on the to-do list for many East Coast residents. The snow is getting moved out of the way, but piles of it could stick around awhile.

Retail analyst Richard Jaffe with Stifel, Nicolaus says so too will the storm's effect on retail sales.

Richard Jaffe: We were thinking about a sales gain of 3 to 5 percent in the month of December. We're now thinking that number's going to be 2 to 4 percent.

In midtown New York, some local, and even national retailers, like the Dress Barn, were closed. Service on many train and subway lines were suspended for much of the day. New York's three major airports were closed part of the day too.

That gave DC native Mia Chreky and her daughter Kylee, another chance to shop 5th Avenue, even if they did have to wait for some stores to open their doors.

Mia Chreky: We had to go to Starbucks and wait until they opened at 12, noon. But the shopping, it's great, we have the streets to ourselves almost. Now it's picking up, but when we came out, we were walking all over the place and there were hardly any vehicles.

Great for those who did brave sidewalk snowdrifts; not so great for retailers hoping to swing to a profit on the strength of holiday sales. Analysts say these lost shopping days, especially yesterday, won't be recovered.

Again, here's Richard Jaffe with Stifel, Nicolaus.

Jaffe: The consumer won't shop twice as much tomorrow because they couldn't shop yesterday. Unfortunately, a Sunday is always going to be a better shopping day than a Wednesday or a Thursday.

So while stores could try special promotions to bring shoppers back later this week, it appears some of those profits headed out to sea, along with the snowstorm.

In New York, I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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