Record Cold in the Midwest Has Some Stores Closing While Others Stay Open

Baby, it’s cold outside. Actually, its freezing if you ask the Midwesterners who are currently living through record-breaking cold.

According to Weather.com, the arctic blast is likely to drop temperatures in some cities to their lowest levels in more than two decades.

The bone-chilling cold is having an impact on schools, transportation and retail, and some stores have shuttered their doors as a result. However, according to independent owners in Minnesota, it is business as usual.

Daniel Hanig, VP of Hanig’s Footwear in Chicago, said the store is closed today and will reopen tomorrow if weather permits. “It affects our business as we lose a day of sales in-store, and our online shipping team also gets delayed,” he noted. “We have just a little more time before spring collections show up and need to clear out as much sale merchandise as possible to make room for new product.”

“[One] would think that the arctic freeze hitting the Midwest means a painful few days at retail for that region, said Jeff Van Sinderen, senior analyst with B. Riley FBR, Inc. “We’ve found that extreme weather tends to be disruptive and doubt that this time is different. In this case, store traffic takes a major hit and those that are venturing out to shop immediately before or after the freeze are not likely to be focused on any new incoming spring product. The interruption in traffic hurts seasonal clearance activity such as boots in brick-and-mortar.  E-commerce could benefit, and we could also see even more aggressive discounting in some cases.  All things considered, this weather phenomenon is not a positive, and the longer it stays cold, the tougher it will be to get spring product moving out the door.”

Some retailers, however, decided to brave the cold. At Morgan Shoes in Madison, Wis., CEO Jeff Langner said it’s business as usual. “What if a longtime customer needed us, what if their special order was here for an important event, maybe a wedding.”

However, the cold spell has negatively impacted business due to its location in an outdoor lifestyle center. “It looks good but no roof,” said the retailer. “When It’s really cold, even in a mall, it’s very slow. Today, it will feel like 50 degrees below, a record.”

“Either way,” he said. “We have been here for over 50 years, and we don’t close. I have a pedorthic appointment with a customer at 11 a.m. He needs me, and I’m glad I can help. We try to contribute to their well-being. It’s old school, [but] we are expected to be here and we are.”

Like Morgan Shoes, Schuler Shoes’ location in Wayzata, Minn., is also open for business. According to sales associate Leslie Hubsmith, the store closed an hour early yesterday and plans to close today at 5 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.

Despite the cold temperature, the store was busy on Tuesday, and again today. One customer, headed to South America on vacation stopped in for a pair of boots. However, noted Hubsmith, the store was selling all categories of footwear.

“Minnesotans are hearty soles,” she added.

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