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Warm Weather Wrecking Seasonal Retail

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It’s been unseasonably warm in the eastern parts of the U.S. and oddly chilly on the west, and the flip-flopped temps have made for bad bottom lines at businesses selling winter gear.

Philadelphia and Boston have experienced up to 15 straight days of above normal temperatures, as has New York, which may even see Christmas Eve temps in the mid-60s.

That warmth naturally translates to fewer sales of heavy coats, winter boots and cold-blocking accessories, which means stores will still have stock of the stuff until it gets sold off in January—likely at clearance prices.

According to weather analytics firm Planalytics, women’s boot sales at stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney fell 13 percent across the country last week. Sales of winter accessories like hats and gloves were down 11 percent.

Shopper traffic has also fallen as a result, with traditionally cold weather markets like Philadelphia seeing 6 percent fewer consumers in apparel stores last week, Boston with traffic down 5 percent and Chicago down 4 percent. Planalytics estimates apparel-only retailers (department stores excluded) have already lost $343 million for the holiday season.

In a webinar last week discussing retail’s holiday homestretch, Planalytics said the elusive colder temperatures would present themselves in the final shopping days leading to Christmas, but retailers are waiting with bated breath to see whether the prediction will hold true.

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