East Coast Retailers See Early Boot Sales at the First Significant Dip in Temperatures

It’s finally time to retire those flip-flops in exchange for a pair of booties.

The east coast has seen its first cold snap this week, and retailers have reported early boot sales. While it may still be too soon to buy performance weatherproof styles, stores are encouraged by early traffic for cold weather product.

At Hawley Lane Shoes, a fashion-comfort chain based in Shelton, Conn., an email blast to customers promoting the store’s boot offering will be sent tomorrow morning. According to marketing specialist Robert Mannino, “We’ve seen a little uptick in boot sales today,” noting fashion looks from brands including Ugg and Emu, as well as ankle boots. However, he noted, “Cold weather styles are not in play yet.”

Independent fashion chain Jildor, based on Long Island, N.Y., experienced boot traffic yesterday and today, according to store manager Frank Falco. Among the sellers is a snug-fitting tall boot from Central 275, a brand exclusive to the store, as well as the Henley, a waterproof sneaker-inspired ankle style from JSlides.

Lightweight, waterproof fashion boots have been performing at Tip Top Shoes in New York, according to owner Danny Wasserman. “[Customers] have been coming in this week with the cold snap,” he said, buying dressier styles with heels. “About 50 to 60 percent of our fashion boots are waterproof,” he explained, noting most customers consider the feature a bonus and not the reason for their purchase.

Rounding out the boot story are short boots, said Wasserman, which have replaced more traditional shoe silhouettes for fall.

Like Wasserman, Joel Sigal, owner of Littles in Pittsburgh, said store traffic began picking up a week ago due to the dip in temperatures in the area. Customers, he noted, were looking for a range of fall styles including booties.

According to Sigal, performance weatherproof styles will likely kick in at the first sign of a flurry. So far early performers have been styles from Ugg and Sorel, Toe Warmers and waterproof boots from Ecco. In addition, ankle-height waterproof boots by Johnston & Murphy have also been strong sellers.

Not all retailers were ringing up sales. At David’s Shoes on First in Cambridge, Mass., store owner Robert Valway said consumers have been stopping into the store to browse the fall boot offering, but had not been buying. “Today it’s in the 30s and the coldest day so far,” said Valway, who anticipates boot sales this weekend. “And, once people see it get cold and wet, they buy.”

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