ATLANTA — An East Coast snowstorm put a damper on after-Christmas shopping Sunday. But shoppers across the rest of the country searched clearance racks and spent gift cards in the afterglow of the best holiday season for retailers since 2007.
"The forecast will tend to keep (shoppers) at home. It's not the best day for shopping," said Scott A. Bernhardt, chief operating officer at weather research firm Planalytics.
The timing could have been worse for retailers. Last year, a snowstorm hit the East Coast the Saturday before Christmas, costing them about $2 billion in lost sales. "People will just wait a day to do exchanges and use their gift cards. It's no big deal," said Greg Maloney, CEO of the retail practice of Jones Lang LaSalle, which manages malls across the country.
Besides the East Coast, shoppers came out in force on Sunday. The nation's largest mall, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., expected 100,000 shoppers. The mall expects its stores' holiday revenue to rise 8 percent over last year, mall spokesman Dan Jasper said.
So far, it's been the best holiday season for retailers since 2007, which was a record year. The week ending Jan. 1 makes up less than 10 percent of the Nov. 1-Dec. 31 season but accounts for more than 15 percent of holiday spending, research firm ShopperTrak says. Analysts say holiday season spending is on track to rise 3 to 4 percent, the best percentage increase since 2006.
The snow will send some shoppers online, where sales have been strong compared with last year. Online spending rose more than 16 percent the week ending on Christmas, IBM Coremetrics said.