Winter Storm Helps, Hurts Shoe Retailers

The winter storm that blasted the East Coast and South Atlantic regions this past weekend was a blessing for some footwear retailers, and yet another burden for others struggling in a difficult retail climate.

Super Saturday — as it has come to be known — is typically one of the biggest shopping days of the year, with more than $15 billion in goods sold, according to Planalytics. And in Boston and New York, the snowy weather actually drove customers into stores looking for boots.

“We’re in Manhattan, and the weather actually helped business tremendously because people were in the mood to buy boots, and boots are a nice part of the business because they typically cost more than $100,” said David Zaken, owner of the David Z stores in New York. “The registers were ringing. It was a very nice weekend.”

Likewise, Tarek Hassan, co-owner of The Tannery in Boston, said the weather put consumers in the mood to buy boots, both for themselves and as gifts. Despite at least a foot-and-a-half of snow, Hassan said, consumers came out to buy. “With the storm, it pushed people into the mood to buy waterproof footwear as a holiday item,” he said. It also helped propel footwear as a gift item. “It turned out to be a big day for us just because people were coming in like crazy to pick up boots.”

Hassan said his Internet business also spiked on Saturday, up 25 percent, as some consumers elected to stay home, but still had shoes and boots on their minds.

Still, some said the weather kept many consumers home bound. 

Ann Spallone, manager of Greenwich, Conn.-based Shoes ’N’ More, said 18 inches of snow and icy streets kept many customers away from stores, and when they finally did come out shopping, they did so later in the day. “It definitely made a lot of people stay home. It was really bad up here,” she said. “We found that the shoppers came out later. The business started at about 2 p.m., and that was more for kids’ [product] and snow boots.”

But Spallone was still hopeful that she could make up the business. “Today has been really busy, so we’ll see,” she said. 

Others, however, said the impact of the storm and a lost day of sales will sting for some time to come. “It’s going to have a lasting effect,” said Alex Kereselidze, manager of Washington, D.C.-based Solbiato. “On Saturday, we were open for only three hours, so it definitely affected us. We lost a day of sales, so that hurts.”

Access exclusive content