Heat Sparks Sandal Sales

NEW YORK — A record-breaking heat wave in the Northeast last week drove consumers into stores, giving a boost to footwear sales.

Weather forecasting firm Planalytics Inc. tracked the impact on sandal sales for the week ended July 10, and sales in New York rose 19 percent compared with last year. When looking at the five-week period from May 30 to July 3, sales in the city were up 13 percent.

“Overall, we estimate the impact of the heat wave will be positive for retail sales,” said Evan Gold, SVP of client services at Planalytics. “Sandals and summer accessories are up.”

Gold added, however, that footwear retailers in outdoor malls could be negatively impacted because the hot temperatures are not conducive to leisure shopping.

At Chuckie’s New York, though, which runs two stores, on Madison Avenue and Third Avenue in New York, the weather has not hurt business. “Nothing can stop women from shopping,” said owner Richard Erani.

“It’s a lot hotter this summer, but sales seem to be better and we are steadier,” he added, noting that the store is up about 30 percent over last year and that sales on sandals and wedges continue to lead the way.

Online retailer Lovemyshoes.com, which also operates five stores in New York, has been surviving the heat with summer markdowns. Owner Robert Yeganeh said that while the Fourth of July holiday weekend is typically slow, on Monday, July 5 — one of the warmest days of the week — sales were better than in 2009.

“It’s a heat wave and it’s going to pass,” said Yeganeh. “Typically, [mid-July] through [mid-August] is dead anyway, so we’re trying to keep afloat with promotions and back-to-school sales.”

But not all retailers thought the warm weather was cool.

Gary Muhrcke, owner at Super Runners Shop in Huntington, N.Y., said he definitely anticipated fewer shoppers because consumers are not hitting the trails as often.

“The shoe business can’t compete with the beach on weekends,” said Muhrcke. “[We’re] going to have less traffic when it’s 100 degrees out, and there are going to be fewer people running.”

Meanwhile, summer sales at French Sole’s flagship location on Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue are down about 50 percent compared with last year, according to manager Ali Melhaoui. He partially attributed the decline to the weather.

“We have merchandise, but the heat wave is really bad, so it [keeps] people [from] shopping,” said Melhaoui.

Blake Kirshenbaum, manager at Shoebox New York on Third Avenue, said he noticed a 10 percent decline in traffic since before the holiday weekend, compared with the summer season last year.

“The weekend was really quiet, and Saturday, [July 3], was a really slow day,” he said. “People are miserable being outside, and it’s not good shopping weather.” As a solution, Kirshenbaum has been sending e-mail blasts and calling customers to draw them in with several promotions.

Overall, though, he said sandals are still selling — even with fall merchandise coming in — so the heat wave should have only a “moderate impact” on business.

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