Winter Storm Jonas Freezes Retail Traffic & Sales

Retailers across the Northeast say that in addition to the icy roads, snow-covered sidewalks and 15 tragic deaths Storm Jonas left in its wake, the massive blizzard also put a substantial dent into their profits over the weekend.

While local supermarkets benefited from the influx of shoppers running to stores for milk, eggs, water and all of the usual storm-prep essentials, for retail, an impending blizzard signals that sales and traffic are likely to come to a halt.

And while the travel ban in New York was lifted on Sunday, it still isn’t business as usual across much of the storm-battered Northeast region today.

We were closed on Saturday and Sunday, and I’d say it will be three or so days before we are open again,” a manager at Washington, D.C.-based Sky Valet Shoes told Footwear News. “I would estimate that [if we end up being closed for] six days, it could cost our business about $12,000.”

The store manager added that he expects to hold a few sales and promotions to boost traffic and regain some of those losses.

Darren Overby, an associate at Fleet Feet Sports in Washington, D.C., said his store was closed on Saturday but reopened on Sunday to slow traffic as streets and sidewalks were still being cleared.

Our customers are pretty loyal — no one wants to come out in that mess, but at the same time, people needed certain things,” Overby said.

Paul Rodriguez, a manager at Renarts Shoes in Huntington, N.Y., said the store closed on Saturday and opened later than usual, at 1:30 p.m. EST, on Sunday. While traffic was slow on Sunday, Rodriguez said some potential losses from the storm may have been offset by the uptick in traffic the store saw on Friday.

On Friday, we sold a lot of snow boots and winter stuff,” Rodriguez said.

At least one retailer, Kith NYC, saw shoppers brave the harsh storm and ignore travel warnings on Saturday to line up for the release of its collaboration with Adidas Originals, the Ronnie Fieg x Adidas Originals Tubular Doom Primeknit.

According to Citi Research analyst Kate McShane, who cited data from ShopperTrak, total retail visits last week (ended Jan. 23, 2016) declined 5.44 percent year-on-year. Total U.S. retail same-store traffic slumped 8.46 percent year-over-year, McShane added, a decline undoubtedly bolstered by Storm Jonas.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, DSW Inc. and American Apparel are among the firms in her coverage area that have the greatest proportion of total stores within the most heavily affected states, McShane said.

Cowen & Co. analyst John Kernan noted on Monday that retail traffic on Saturday alone declined 15.9 percent.

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