The record-breaking cold-weather wave is not showing any signs of letting up anytime soon, with areas of the U.S. from South Texas to Canada and Montana through Maine in a deep freeze.
While independent retailers around the country reported that the weather had some customers coming in for a last-minute pair of winter boots and other seasonal gear, others said there hasn’t been an uptick in sales, as many shoppers are sitting out the cold at home.
At Rochester, N.Y.-based Foot Performance Center, year-to-date boot business is up roughly 5 to 6 percent due to the cold snap, according to Brian Ferguson, general manager. While he noted the store’s core clientele with special fitting needs typically buy their boots early, it’s also seen additional traffic from walk-ins in search of a pair of cold-weather boots.
“Business will continue to pick up as long as I can get inventory,” said Ferguson about fill-ins from his vendor roster, which includes brands such as Propet.
It’s business as usual at Stan’s Fit for Your Feet in Glendale, Wis., according to manager Angie Murray. She noted the store is currently holding its post-holiday sale, when customers typically shop for boots. Among the strong sellers is the Toe Warmers brand from Canada.
Like Murray, Jim Smith, manager of Comfort Footworks in Matthews, N.C., said business has been on par with last year when it comes to boots. “We had already started our end-of-year sales on boots a few weeks ago,” he said. He added that the region has experienced severe cold snaps before. “For us, this was not a jump in business.”
For Bob Jones Shoes in Kansas City, Mo., co-owner Harry Bosley said boot sales are on par with prior seasons since many shoppers decided to stay indoors rather than brave the cold for a day out shopping. “There was less traffic than when the weather was warmer,” he said of the adverse effect of the current cold spell. He added that if consumers have not bought boots by mid-January into February, they will likely hold off until next year.
For retailers such as Alamo Shoes in Chicago, the record low temperatures provided an opportunity for added sales. According to owner Sol Price, consumers who might otherwise shop online were instead walking into the store for a pair of warm boots. “They weren’t playing games with their phones and checking everything [available],” said Price. However, he added, the cold also had an adverse affect on sales, with some shoppers opting to stay home to avoid the cold.
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