Thursday, December 19, 2013


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Winter weather (in moderation) good for sales

ALBANY - New York's retailers report modest gains to date during this truncated "official" holiday shopping season – up 1 to 3 percent over the same period in 2012 – but all this winter weather could be a double-edged sword as the calendar lurches closer to Christmas Day.

"A little snow on the ground helps sparkle it up and put people in a festive and shopping mood," said Retail Council President and CEO Jim Sherin. "A lot of snow on the roads or in the forecast can keep people home and shopping from their computers."

Sherin said survey results this week point to New York shoppers in good spirits, looking for bargains, and looking for jewelry – but ill-timed seasonal storms may have dampened a pivotal weekend.

"Things slowed down a lot last Saturday afternoon (December 14) and well into Sunday (December 15)," he said. "Portions of New York State have been hit pretty hard at other times since Thanksgiving weekend, and retailers in those regions are hopeful that shoppers will turn out in good numbers over the next week."

Weather's paradox might be driving stronger sales, too, with shoppers out looking for winter-weather clothing and sporting goods.

"Without a chill in the air, that merchandise tends to sit on the shelves," Sherin said.  "Shoppers know that time is running out – and that doesn't leave a lot of time for shipping and handling of mail-order or Internet purchases. Retailers are confident that the weekend ahead could bring some heavy traffic – so for you last-minute shoppers out there, you might want to think about hitting the stores as early as possible!"

Hot sellers so far this holiday season include Alex and Ani bracelets, jewelry items, XBox and PlayStation upgrades, video games, LeapPad, Big Hug Elmo, "Despicable Me" figures, winter sports equipment, cold weather clothing, "Duck Dynasty" tie-ins, moccasins, high-end headphones