At the start of winter ’16, Mother Nature seemed to continue to throw curveballs at retail.
The previous winter — marked by warmer-than-normal temperatures — left seasonal inventories high for many fashion firms. And their hopes that the current winter would see a return to more seasonal temperatures seemed to be dashed when December drew near and weather remained mild in key markets, including New York and other parts of the Northeast.
But a burst of cold weather around mid-to-late December has been a boon to business for several boot brands looking to win back their mojo.
The biggest beneficiaries of colder temps, according to experts, have been Ugg, Sorel, Sperry, Bearpaw and Columbia.
“Cold weather that arrived in December (and has continued into January) dramatically boosted cold weather footwear sales for brands like Ugg, Sorel and Bearpaw,” Canaccord Genuity Inc. analyst Camilo Lyon wrote on Jan. 13. “These sales were at or near full margin and inventory across the channel is now incredibly clean, boding well for positive order growth for fall/winter ’17.”
Beth Goldstein, executive director and industry analyst at The NPD Group, also pointed out that the firm’s data showed that weather product picked up steam in December, with functional snowboot and duck-boot styles from Sorel, Sperry, Ugg and Columbia growing at the expense of dress and casual boots.
Similarly, Citi Research analysts Kate McShane and Corinna Van der Ghinst noted strength at Ugg and Columbia Sportswear — domestically and internationally — during the past few weeks.
“Consistent with our recent checks, Columbia’s business has picked up recently on colder weather in North America and Europe, while Russia, China and Japan also appear to be performing well,” McShane wrote on Wednesday.