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A little snow and ice or online glitch didn’t seem to stand too much in the way of shoppers finishing their final holiday push this Super Saturday weekend, although some softness worked its way in.

Evan Gold, executive vice president for global services at Planalytics, said Saturday’s weather had ”pretty much panned out as we expected.”

“It was traffic disrupting, especially in the morning along the East Coast — New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and even Boston,” Gold said. “Most markets got two to four inches of snow, which was actually good for continuing to keep customers in a winter mind-set. The ice was probably the bigger challenge, But when you look at the season as a whole, it’s not going to have a material impact.”

He said if anything, Saturday’s Winter Storm Decima shifted some shopping either into later in the day or into Sunday.

As for Sunday and the rest of the week, Gold noted that the Midwest is “getting absolutely blasted by cold weather.” The high in Chicago on Sunday wasn’t expected to rise above zero degrees and places like Minneapolis were going to have highs of five or 10 degrees below zero.

“Obviously that’s well below normal and extremely different from last year — 40 or 50 degrees different on a year-over-year basis,” he said. “People are still out shopping, it’s that time of year, but what it impacts are what people are putting into their baskets. We’re looking at double-digit increases on items like winter boots, thermals, scarves, hats and gloves of anywhere from 10 to 30 percent on a year-over-year basis on a national level. If you drill lower on a regional or market basis, it’s going to be even higher the colder the market.”

The fairly normal weather forecast for the East Coast this coming week compared to last year’s unusually warm weather “bodes well” for the last shopping week before the holiday, Gold said.

He said for December as a whole, Planalytics, which quantifies the economic impact of weather on consumer demand, puts a $350 million impact year-over-year spent on seasonal apparel in the country as a whole, the bulk of which comes from the Northeast and Midwest.

Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, said Super Saturday got off to a slow start due to the storm and cold snap, but gained speed as the weekend unfolded.

Johnson said hardlines continued to outpace softlines, with jewelry a bright spot in the fashion sector.
“Full-price apparel destinations well lagged value stores, from off-pricers like TJX to Old Navy,” he said. “Most apparel specialty stores were at least 30 to 40 percent off and many at 50 percent for the entire store, including Anthropologie, Express, Banana Republic and New York & Company. Department stores remained traffic-challenged, exacerbated by the weather, and luxe stores remained most pressured and were offering select discounts of 50 to 60 percent off.”
Meanwhile, social media was abuzz with reports of an outage on Amazon that started around 6 p.m. on Saturday and lasted for about 30 minutes on Amazon.com, its mobile site and its Canadian site. Users complained that all the items that they placed in their cart were listed unavailable. Amazon has not addressed the cause of the error and did not respond to requests for comment.

Super Saturday was expected to bring in up to $1.5 billion in total online sales, according to Adobe Digital Insights. On Amazon, sales after Cyber Weekend were up an average of 54 percent, according to One Click Retail managing partner Spencer Millerberg. An outage like the one that occurred Saturday could cost the e-commerce behemoth millions in sales.

On Sunday afternoon, the corridors of Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, N.Y., were filled with shoppers. Warm temperatures and rain appeared to drive families, teens and young couples to the Simon-owned property.

One of the busiest stores observed was Alex and Ani, which had accumulated a line of shoppers waiting to enter. At least one dozen deep, many of the shoppers in line said they had already placed merchandise on hold for fear that popular styles — such as a snowflake charm — would sell out.

All merchandise at Abercrombie & Fitch was marked down 50 percent off, except for the brand’s signature cologne, Fierce. The struggling brand — in the midst of a design and positioning overhaul — continues to sell its calling-card distressed denim and tight, monogrammed casualwear tops. Activewear, a recent introduction, appeared to be the store’s most popular category, with limited sizes remaining on racks.

Michael Kors was running a promotion with purchases of $250 eligible for a 25 percent discount and $300 expenditures receiving 30 percent off.

The Ugg store was filled with last-minute shoppers purchasing slippers and sure-to-fit gifts like gloves and hats. Traffic at Kay Jewelers was equally brisk, with all sales attendants locked in sales.

Neiman Marcus had moderate traffic — mostly women congregated at the shoe sale racks, where prices were up to 40 percent off.

The department store’s luxury collections were marked down at similar percentages, with racks from Stella McCartney, The Row and Valentino the most thin on merchandise.

Overall, Customer Growth Partners’ best-case forecast is for a 4.1 percent year-over-year growth, well above consensus estimates of about 3.5 percent growth.

CGP said if sustained through December, the 5.1 percent pace would represent the strongest holiday retail growth since the 6.1 percent increase in the 2005 season, according to Johnson.

He said a “positive perfect storm of factors have come together to boost growth, including real income growth, low gasoline prices, food deflation — and now record stock prices.”

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