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Snow Hampers Retail On Key Day for Sales

Blizzards blew away any hopes retailers had for robust President’s Day business.

NEW YORK — Snow brought yet another blow to the beleaguered retail sector Monday as the hoped-for President’s Day sale bonanza was wiped out by a blizzard.

Major department stores and some specialty stores opened for business as usual Monday despite the mounds of snow, swirling winds and transit snafus that inundated the city and the entire Northeast. Yet the most ardent of shoppers made their way to their favorite stores.

Stragglers stood in front of Bloomingdale’s Lexington Avenue flagship, all bundled up, waiting for the store to open at 10 a.m. According to Michael Gould, Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive, at midday, the main floor was busy. Other Bloomingdale’s stores in the surrounding regions like New Jersey, Philadelphia, Long Island and Washington, however, were closed due to the inclement weather.

“We have a big sale today, but it will be what it will be,” Gould said optimistically, speaking of the lost sales due to diminished foot traffic. “We have the whole year to make it up, but as of right now, we’ve got pretty good traffic on the main floor.”

Macy’s Herald Square flagship was open for business and Bergdorf Goodman opened promptly at 10 a.m., although Ron Frasch, chairman and chief executive officer of Bergdorf’s, said “There aren’t an awful lot of shoppers in the store.”

Due to worsening weather conditions, most retailers planned to close shop a bit early.

“We’re open so far, but we’ll probably close early,” said Frasch. “It’s just a question of when.”

“We’re going to play it by ear,” said Gould of the store’s closing time. “We want to make sure everything is OK and that our employees can get home safely.”

As of midday Monday, Saks Fifth Avenue was planning to close at 5 p.m, while Lord & Taylor was aiming for a 4 p.m. close. Barneys New York’s Madison Avenue store was closed the entire day because of the weather, yet the Barneys Warehouse Sale was still going on and the Co-op in SoHo was open until 3:30 p.m.

Major retail chains along Manhattan’s 34th Street strip, like Victoria’s Secret, The Gap, Banana Republic, Zara, H & M, Ann Taylor Loft and Express, did not open for business. Yet a handful of specialty stores downtown like Jeffrey and Kirna Zabete did.

“The people who are showing up today are ready to roll up their sleeves and shop,” said Sarah Easley, co-owner of Kirna Zabete. “So, it’s quality over quantity in here today.”

Major malls contacted in the metropolitan area were closed, including The Westchester, The Mall at Short Hills, and Paramus Park. Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, N.Y., was open on a store-by-store basis.

Elsewhere in the Northeast, roads were becoming impassable. By Sunday morning streets from Washington, D.C., heading north to Philadelphia were becoming impossible to traffic. Most regional shopping malls in that part of the mid-Atlantic region didn’t even bother to open, including the five-anchor Tysons Corner Center in northern Virginia — a mall known for keeping its doors open in bad weather. States of emergencies were declared throughout the region, including Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware.

Public works and city officials across the region forecast rough going for Tuesday. The sheer amount of snow — in some areas two feet — was proving a steep challenge for road crews and plows attempting to clear retail parking lots.