The ‘Bomb Cyclone’ Is Chilling Sales for Some Retailers This Week

A historic storm — exacerbated by record cold temperatures — is plastering the mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast, forcing some retailers to close up shop. Others are facing decreased foot traffic.

Virginia-based Comfort One Shoes is staying open despite high winds and extreme cold. But after a strong holiday sales season, January has been tough so far for the 22-store chain. Low temperatures have led to decreased foot traffic — a problem for its many street-level stores.

“It’s had an impact — and not a positive one,” owner Maurice Breton said. “Hopefully when weather breaks back to a more seasonable temperature, we’ll have traffic back in our stores.” And an increase in the purchase of winter gear hasn’t compensated for a loss in foot traffic.

At Concepts in Boston, cold temperatures and stormy weather are causes for celebration. While the retailer closed today due to safety concerns, owner Tarek Hassan believes storms will help drive sales, especially after a mild fall.

“It’s a blessing for business,” he said. “We always pray for snow, for cold weather for the boots business … People need to see it before they go out and buy it.”

As far as traffic goes, Hassan hasn’t seen any negative impact from buyers’ staying home in the cold weather.

“Our traffic’s been up from the year before and the year before — I don’t see customers not coming out because it’s cold,” he said. “It’s been very, very positive; I’m very happy. We haven’t seen any type of effect of customers’ not coming out because it’s cold.”

For New York-based Extra Butter and Renarts, the “bomb cyclone” meant store closures for Thursday, according to co-owner Ankur Amin. As far as sales go, Amin has seen more movement across the outdoor category in recent days as shoppers anticipated storms to come.

“At Renarts, Timberlands and the outdoor category did see an uptick over the past few days,” said Amin. “At Extra Butter though, sneakers are still on top.  Although, we have seen some better movement in ‘outdoor sneakers’ in-store.”

While snowfall is expected to die down on Friday, record cold temperatures are supposed to come in the snow’s wake — a factor that could either spur boot sales or lead shoppers to stay home.

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