NEW YORK — Just as farmers hope for rain and theme park operators yearn for sun, outerwear retailers and vendors pray for cold.

Unfortunately for them, in the words of Mark Twain, everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. With unseasonably warm weather having put a damper on sales at the end of 2002, the recent arctic blast over much of the country has many outerwear companies and observers feeling fairly sanguine about the next few months.

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