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NPD: East Coast Snow Won’t Affect Retail Sales

By : Erik Gruenwedel | Posted: 22 Dec 2009

Despite much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the country still digging out from a storm that dumped upwards of 20 inches of snow on the last weekend before Christmas, holiday sales shouldn’t be adversely affected, according to The NPD Group.

That could be significant considering the region accounted for 18% of national retail sales for the first 10 months of the year, according to NPD’s consumer tracking service. And with packaged media, including DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies, representing double-digit percentage of holiday gift purchases this year, adverse weather conditions during the final week before Christmas could be an issue.

“It’s not likely that a one or two day pause in holiday shopping will cause measurable impact on the final holiday sales volume, even when those two days are two of the busiest days holiday shopping days, the Saturday and Sunday before Christmas,” Stephen Baker, VP, industry analysis, with The NPD Group, wrote in a note.

Baker said this holiday season benefited from Christmas falling on a Friday gave shoppers nearly an entire week to catch up. He send in parts of Northern Virginia there were reports of gridlock at area malls, including waits of 60 minutes just to exit mall parking lots.

In addition, NPD found that online retailers and brick-and-mortar retail sites catering to the consumer electronics market jumped on the disruption caused by the snowstorm to increase e-mail to consumers, offering shipping deals and fast delivery to make up for the lost shopping opportunity of last weekend.

“This targeted electronics marketing only adds to our conviction … that e-commerce continues to make a real dent into the consumers perception of how, when and where they shop for the holiday,” Baker wrote.

Separately, after more than two and a half years of year-over-year declines, import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to see three straight months of gains in early 2010, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The retail trade group said the reversal indicates manufacturers and retailers appear confident that consumer spending is beginning to pick up, albeit slowly.

“We’ve been seeing hints of a turnaround in our past few reports, but this is starting to look like a clear trend,” said Jonathan Gold, VP for supply chain and customs policy with NRF. “If retailers are starting to import more merchandise, it’s because they expect to be able to sell more, and that’s a good sign for our industry and the overall economy.”


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