Heat Wave: How Will Retailers Fare as Extreme Temperatures Grip the Nation?

The heat is on.

According to The National Weather Service, a dangerous heat wave will persist through the weekend, affecting most of the eastern two-thirds of the country. Heat indices will surge past 100 degrees and even rise above 110 in many areas.

The repercussions of the intense heat is likely to impact retail, according to shoe retailers. While some expect a downturn in business as shoppers choose to stay home, others are finding business on the uptick as some head to air conditioned stores to cool off.

At Head Start Shoes in Philadelphia, management said it expects less people shopping this weekend due to the record high temperatures.

Village Cobbler in Wilmington, Del., owner Liz Murphy, agreed business has been slow since yesterday. “I haven’t really seen too many people the whole week,” she said. “Yesterday and today it’s been dead around here.” She added that a few customers she called about special orders that had arrived, said they would not be coming into the store to pick them up.

Like Murphy, Paulia Selvin, owner of Baltimore-based Dan Butler Shoes said, “We’re seeing less customers. We already feel the effect of the heat wave. People are staying indoors.”

There are retailers, however, that expect to see a surge in store traffic. At Sneaker Junkie in Providence, R.I., manager Bilal Jaber said, “It will be too hot to be outside, so customers will want to come in where there is A/C and stay cool.” He added, “I think it’s too hot for beach weather.”

Kristi Gamache, sales director for Lauries Shoes in St. Louis, is also optimistic about business. “We’re seeing more [traffic],” she said.  “Everyone is saying it’s too hot for the pool right now and is coming into the store. We found our back-to-school shopping is starting even earlier. Everyone’s getting in that school mode, so we’re excited by it.”

For those living in areas that are typically hot this time of year, it was business as usual. Rachel Anderson, sales associate at The Perfect Pair in Nashville noted, “It’s hot in July in Nashville. The heat is pretty normal, so don’t know that affected us this much.”

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