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Apparel Sales Still Slow Despite Year End Colder Weather

The winter may be sort of setting in this week, but the so far warmer climes have already done their damage to sales of cold weather duds.

According to weather analytics firm Planalytics’ latest estimate, sales at apparel specialty stores were down $500 million for the Nov. 1 through Dec. 26 period compared to the same period last year.

Outerwear sales were down 13 percent nationally, with New York—which saw Christmas Eve temps into the 70s—showing outerwear sales down 17 percent and Boston down 15 percent.

The colder temps that reached the East Coast just before the new year gave apparel retailers little more than a $200 million boost in sales, according to Reuters, which added that markdowns upwards of 50 percent for those sales will make it particularly hard for retailers to recover margins in the coming months.

Lord and Taylor had virtually all coats marked 50 percent off Monday, with an extra promo code for an additional 25 percent off online. Macy’s had coats marked down upwards of 60 percent with an additional 20 percent off coupon code.

In retail overall, shoppers continued to spend after Christmas, and as Verizon’s Retail Index noted, the shopping shows no signs of stopping.

“As expected, retailers rang in the new year with a bang as they rallied to the finish line to move merchandise including excess winter inventory,” Michele Dupré, group vice president of retail, hospitality and distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said. “Retailers enticed consumers with time-bound promotions to create a sense of urgency and consumers with extra time on their hands due to the long holiday weekend appeared to respond in droves.”

E-commerce shopping activity reached new heights over the New Year’s holiday weekend (Jan. 1-3), with Sunday’s activity ringing in the highest at 36 percent above average. Mobile traffic, however, was lower than usual for the period, and compared to last year, overall traffic was lower too.

But Dupré said the findings indicate that there’s still time for retailers to capture wallet share this week, when mobile engagement will be key with shoppers back at work.