By  on January 13, 2011

NEW YORK — In the wake of Manhattan’s first major snowfall of the new year, consumers hit the streets Wednesday morning and stores were ready and waiting, but neither seemed to do any serious damage retailwise.

Traffic at Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, A|X Armani Exchange, Pucci, Bottega Veneta, Ferragamo, Escada, De Beers, St. John and other designer boutiques along Fifth Avenue was sleepy. Without anyone lined up outside Hollister’s Fifth Avenue store, the velvet ropes near the entrance looked more like an art installation than a holding pen. Intrepid spenders who ventured out found plenty of sale items.

At The Shops at Columbus Circle, some people arrived before the stores’ 10 a.m. opening. In from Australia with her two young sons, Amanda Scrimshaw spent $300 for a pair of pants, a cardigan, a scarf and a top at J. Crew. The chilly weather prompted her to buzz through a few stores before leaving for the airport. (Not wearing winter coats may have affected their activities options, too.)

Heading into Bergdorf Goodman, Steph Paynes of the cover band Lez Zeppelin was in search of a black-tie dress since she suddenly had a block of free time due to weather-related cancellations. But the spontaneity would not extend to how much she would spend. “I am generally always cautious. I don’t think it has much to do with this year,” she said.

With up to 75 percent-off signs posted on its Fifth Avenue flagship’s windows, H&M appeared to be bidding adieu to winter. And shoppers were happy to help, judging from the number of them in the store and on the streets toting large H&M bags. There was also no shortage of shoppers at Zara’s Fifth Avenue store in Midtown. Many of them, especially tourists ill prepared for the elements, were in search of rain boots, coats, scarves, other cold-weather gear and thigh-high socks, said Alejandra Enamorado, a sales associate.

Tiffany & Co. was more tame, with store traffic lighter than usual, according to brand ambassador Victor Navedo. Moscow resident Natalia Beicak left the flagship empty-handed but she had splurged at Bergdorf Goodman earlier. Eager to hit stores that are not in Russia, she said she planned to spend between $5,000 to $10,000 shopping during her one-week stay.

Saks Fifth Avenue was also quieter than the norm. Savannah College of Art & Design’s Michael Fink, who used to work at Saks, swung through his old stomping grounds Wednesday. Like others, he indicated the idea of snow was more appealing than the end result. “I hoped it would snow, but I don’t miss this at all,” Fink said.

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