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Chilly December Weather to Boost Apparel Retail

Carolers aren’t the only ones dreaming of a white Christmas. Retailers would welcome a visit from Frosty too—and they just might get one.

While many in the northeast were frolicking in short sleeves last December, retailers were sweating it out as winter apparel sales froze. Chilling headlines like “Retailers Feel the Heat of Lost Winter Clothing Sales” and “Fashion Retailers Pay Heavy Price for Warm Winter” underscored how our buy-now, wear-now culture didn’t give retailers a snowball’s chance in 2015-16. According to CNN, apparel stores in the U.S. lost $572 million. That’s a hefty price for a little fun in the sun.

But this year, outerwear sales may be on the rise. Planalytics, a business weather analytics company, projects colder temps will result in a 5 percent increase in outerwear sales for December 2016.

This fact should warm the hearts of merchants still digging out from last year. For instance, Macy’s blamed 80 percent of the company’s year-on-year shortfall at the end of 2015 on a surplus of cold-weather goods thanks to unseasonable weather. Even this year, a balmy fall—marked by the second warmest October on record—has dampened some sales. Count H&M in among those that have blamed the weatherman for a flood of markdowns in stores.

But as 2016 rolls over to 2017, the Farmer’s Almanac warns—or promises, depending on which side of the cash register you find yourself—frigid temps are on the horizon. It says that while December will play at winter weather, February will bring down the hammer, especially in the north but even Florida and the Gulf Coast will catch a chill. Though this show of force by Mother Nature will be appreciated, it’ll probably be too late to have maximum impact on the season.

Overall, Planalytics is projecting a $273 million weather adjusted sales impact for the apparel specialty stores compared to last year.