How This Super-Cold Spring Is Impacting Shoe Sales at Retailers

While the calendar says it’s spring, Mother Nature has had other ideas this season. Throughout the country, chilly temperatures and snowy storms continue to crop up, delaying spring dressing — and shopping.

To get a sense of the impact of these unpredictable weather patterns on business, FN caught up with five independent shoe retailers from across the country:

Gary Weiner
President & CEO, Saxon Shoes, Richmond, Va.
“Normal temperatures [here in Richmond] should be 63 degrees. Yet we had to close our stores early twice [in March] due to snow. And more is predicted. The problem is, your gut is no match for Mother Nature. The most important thing to know about these unpredictable weather patterns is to stay in open and honest communication with vendors. That relationship is key. For us, if we see an unseasonable change in weather, we call our vendors and ask for an early release.”

Dan Ungar
President, Mar-Lou Shoes, Cleveland
“The weather has been unbelievably wacky. It has definitely affected business. Our summer goes from, say, June to October, so our sandal season starts as early as March. I have them in about 25 percent of the store right now. But [recently] we woke up to 4 inches of snow. So sandals definitely aren’t moving. And even though it’s snowing, we can’t give boots away. A sales associates marked down a pair of boots to half price. I bet that they wouldn’t move — I was right. Psychologically, people don’t know what to do.”

Natalie Walker
Owner, Gotta Have My Pumps, McKinney, Texas
“For North Texas, spring is arriving very late. Usually by now people are wearing flip-flops, but it was 40 degrees out this morning. I’m usually selling boots on sale by now, but instead I’m selling them at full price. I’ve had to rethink my budget for buying. A lot of my brands are custom and have to be ordered in advance. To other business owners, I’d say, No. 1, run your own race — go with your gut. And make sure you build a good relationship with your brand rep. They are understanding — they get it.”

Kate Blake
Owner, Shoo, Milwaukee
“I have two stores, and I do both wholesale and retail, so I see it on both sides. With wholesale, I’m not getting reorders. With the stores, I’m not selling clear-cut seasons. I’m selling transitional items like oxfords and sneakers. A good day lately is when someone buys several pairs of the same item. Customers are confused. I know I am. I don’t know what to wear from week to week, never mind plan ahead with a budget for a season.”

Paula Eisen
Owner, Click Shoes, Chicago
“You really do need a crystal ball. This year has been unseasonably moderate in Chicago. For example, right now, it’s sunny and in the 40s. I have a lot of boots left over from winter and fall that aren’t moving, even at half off. It’s killing me. If I underorder, it’s a risk because it’s impossible to fill in when I run out of something.

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