Northeast Winter Storm Curtails Already Shortened Holiday Shopping Season | RetailNext

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Northeast Winter Storm Curtails Already Shortened Holiday Shopping Season

Shelley E. Kohan
Shelley E. Kohan
Vice President of Retail Consulting

The snowstorm’s impact, coupled with the online shipping cutoffs, makes this weekend of Dec 21-22 a “monster weekend” of opportunity for brick-and-mortar stores

Prior to the holiday season starting, RetailNext anticipated a drop in overall traffic for the shopping season from high single digits to low double digits based on the amount of online options this year over last year.

Recently, however, in the Northeast (NE), weather has added another complication to the already shortened holiday shopping season. Stores in the Northeast experienced sharp traffic declines this Saturday, December 14th, as compared to last year. Because of the storm, traffic declined well over 25% on Saturday. This is significantly more than stores that were not impacted by the storm.

Although conversion of the traffic that did make it to the stores stayed consistent with stores not impacted by weather, the shear decline of traffic will be hard for retailers to make up on the sales end. On Sunday, December 15th, stores that were affected by the snow realized improvement over Saturday with traffic declines between 15%-20%.

What does this mean for RetailNext’s predicted “Super Weekend” of December 21st and 22nd?

The initially predicted “super weekend” now becomes a “monster weekend” for brick-and-mortar stores. RetailNext analysts predict a low single-digit uptick in traffic for brick-and-mortar stores, which will translate into an estimated 5% sales growth this weekend, resulting from improved conversion. The impact of the snowstorm, coupled with the online shipping cutoffs, makes this weekend for brick-and-mortars even more substantial.

Despite the relatively modest traffic uptick, RetailNext expects sales growth due to the year-over-year improvements in conversion. Those shoppers entering the brick-and-mortar environment are leaving with product, and we expect no less this upcoming weekend.

Retailers can quickly act on this shopper readiness by ensuring stock is to the floor, staff is ready to convert shoppers (they will need little convincing), and “add-on” sales are in action to create an opportunity to drive shopper yield. Utilizing mobile functionality to help with conversion while shoppers are in the store could make this a top weekend for the year, surpassing even Black Friday Weekend.