MONSTER WINTER STORM SLAMS RETAILING IN WASHINGTON, N.Y.
Byline: Joyce Barrett
NEW YORK — What weather forecasters called a “storm of historic proportions” played havoc with retailing in the Northeast Sunday, hitting the Washington area early in the day.
With up to 36 inches of accumulation expected in some locations around the capitol, a long list of shopping malls closed before noon.
In New York, flagship stores of Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Henri Bendel and Lord & Taylor, plus Manhattan Mall, were still open. But malls were closing down in the suburbs.
Michael Gould, chairman and chief executive officer of Bloomingdale’s, said 350 sales associates made it to work, a much smaller number than on a normal day but enough to operate the store, which was doing business.
The chain shut its Washington store early Sunday.
Gould said he expected to miss out on Sunday and today because of the storm, but the chain was running ahead for the month at a double-digit clip as of closing on Saturday night.
The Saks flagship on Fifth Avenue was running a sale, and the store had more traffic than expected, according to Gene Faurie, assistant to the store manager.
But the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey closed at 2 p.m., well short of its usual 6 p.m. finish. With it went the local anchors — Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Saks.
In the Washington-Baltimore area, the early mall closings included Montgomery Mall, Lake Forest Mall, St. Charles Town Center, Annapolis Mall, Tyson’s Corner Center, Landover Mall, White Flint Mall, Fashion Center at Pentagon City, Wheaton Plaza and Springfield Mall.
Also closed were Potomac Mill Mall, Tysons Galleria, Columbia Mall and Savage Mill Mall. National Airport, Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Dulles International Airport were all closed by midday Sunday and travel agents said the Northeast travel corridor was paralyzed by the weather.
Just one day after a standoff between Congress and the White House opened Smithsonian Museums, they were forced to close Sunday because of the weather. Also, the Kennedy Center and Arena Stage were closed.
The closings indicate that merchants are looking out for their employees and customers, said Tracy Mullin, president of the National Retail Federation. “It’s a very practical decision,” she said in a telephone call from her home. “Business would be exceedingly slow because of the weather.”
Safety officials were advising people to stay home as snowplows and emergency vehicles repeatedly got stuck in the snow.