Snow Banks Boot Sales

NEW YORK — Record snowfalls blanketing the Northeast have been a boon for the footwear business.

Retailers across the region told Footwear News boots, in particular, are marching them out of an otherwise slow season.

“Snow is like heaven — it’s actually the best thing that could happen at this time of the year because January and February are usually sale periods with real markdowns,” said Danny Wasserman, owner of Tip Top Shoes in New York.

“But we’ve seen a huge spike in sales because of the weather. When it’s raining people need umbrellas. When it’s slushy people need good waterproof boots,” he added, citing Hunter, Sorel and Timberland as brands that consumers trust to do the job.

At Love My Shoes, owner Robert Yeganeh said he has sold 700 pairs of waterproof boots a week for the past 30 days.

“They are disappearing as fast as we can get them, and we’ve had to reorder [at least once],” he said.

Meanwhile, David Zaken, owner of Manhattan-based David Z stores, noted that “everything is popular and all the brands that have weather gear are selling well, from Timberland to Sorel to Ugg.”

In fact, Ugg Australia predicted that “when the final numbers are in, this will be our best boot year ever at retail,” said the brand’s VP of sales, Ed Goins.

Haim Kedmi, owner of Michael K and Transit stores in Manhattan, affirmed that waterproof boots by Nike and Timberland — all priced between $100 and $140 — are flying off his shelves. He also has seen a 12 percent to 14 percent sales increase in that category so far this season.

Farther north, Tarek Hassan, owner of The Tannery in Boston, said his stores recorded strong sell-throughs of Hunter and Sorel boots in the inclement weather.

“We love the storms because schools are closed and people take the day off from work, [so] it absolutely drives traffic. The snow [has helped] the boot business tremendously [because] the ticket price on those boots [is] high, so it drives sales,” he added.

Indeed, a reported 19 inches of snowfall last Thursday did little to deter shoppers in Oceanside and Babylon, N.Y., where Yeganeh has locations. “These two stores have shown very positive results, even though they opened late due to plowing. People came in and were, in fact, buying spring shoes, like sandals and wedges,” said Yeganeh.

Of course, some retailers do feel left out in the cold.

Duk-ki Yu, owner of Major in Washington, D.C., said shoppers “get scared off when they hear news reports telling them to stay off the roads [because of] the snow, [plus] cold weather this season [means] people would rather shop at a shopping mall or somewhere warm instead of coming to a freestanding boutique.”

Yu said the weather affected his sales negatively, although Timberland boots lined with Gore-Tex, as well as Nike boots, performed well at the store.

Elena Brennan, owner of Bus Stop Boutique, which sells designer women’s shoes in Philadelphia, has found her store traffic “very slow” because of the snowstorms this season.

While she noted that OTBT boots have been her best-seller this season, the weather has left a dent in her general sales.

“I put all the snow boots out in the window hoping to entice people to come in the store,” she said.

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