Snow Spells Sales Chill at Retail

Stock-up efforts fail to offset loss of business to storm, according to ICSC.

Snowstorm Nemo took a bite out of retail sales last week.

The International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs Group reported that sales for the week ended Saturday, Feb. 9 fell 2.5 percent from the prior week.

According to Michael Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist at ICSC, preparations for last Friday’s Northeastern snowstorm led consumers to stock up on essentials at grocery stores, wholesale clubs and drugstores but put a damper on retail activity over the weekend.

RELATED STORY: Northeast Stores Dig Out After Storm >>

“Mother Nature made for the third-snowiest first-week-of-February retail month in more than 22 years, according to Weather Trends International Inc.,” Niemira said. “In turn, that bout of adverse weather curbed shopper traffic for more-discretionary spending items that would typically be found at department and apparel stores, in particular.”

Although the comparison with the prior week lagged, year-on-year comparisons for the week rose 2.1 percent. ICSC continues to expect chain store sales, excluding drugstores, to rise 3.5 percent.

On a sequential basis, sales have declined in three of the last four weeks while rising in year-on-year comparisons for all four periods. The 2.1 percent year-on-year increase was the second-lowest in the last four weeks, with only the 2 percent increase for the week ended Jan. 26 coming in at a lower level.