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Heat Wave Distorts Retail Sales

The heat wave in the Western U.S. is distorting retail sales, pushing up sales in some categories and depressing them in others. Retail experts noted that sales in the depressed categories, which include shorts, T-shirts, and polos, would normally have slowed by this point in the year.

Malls reported solid traffic, but it usually did not start until later in the day, when consumers returned from the beach or pool. Sales of fans, air conditioners, water bottles, and sports drinks were up. Other stores have reported customers coming in simply to cool down.

Stores are now moving into heavy discounting over the 4th of July weekend, which is expected to boost sales significantly. They will then move into the back-to-school season shortly thereafter, and begin rolling out semi-annual sales to clear space for fall goods.

Sleeveless tops and sandals were reportedly strong sellers. Some retail properties have stated that the heatwave isn’t harming sales at all. Stacie Ellis, senior director of marketing at Irvine Company Retail Properties, said, “Warm weather doesn’t really slow us down much – it’s rain that is more of a deterrent.”

In some locations, sales actually increased. Alicia Polmanteer, spokeswoman for Planet Blue, said, “This past weekend was really great in terms of sales. I guess the heat wave had a positive effect. We found a lot of our customers were in the stores buying up our Fourth of July inspired pieces and swimwear. Our Missoni towel range just dropped in-store and was a big success over the weekend.”

Non-apparel categories such as air conditioners and fans saw the biggest impact, with many retail outlets running out of the goods. Retailers selling consumables such as iced coffee and lemonade also did quite well.

The heatwave brought temperatures up to 117 in Las Vegas, and in the low 100s throughout much of the Western United States.