Snowstorms impacts holiday shopping

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(Host) Two recent snowstorms are a mixed blessing for Vermont retailers hoping for strong holiday sales. As VPR’s Steve Zind reports, the effect of the storms depends on the business.

(Zind) The Vermont Retail Association says merchants are optimistic that the season will turn out well, in spite of two major storms that have hampered holiday shopping.

Ron Marcus of Freeman Marcus Jewelers in Rutland says the season has been good for his store and shoppers seem willing to spend. But Marcus says the snow doesn’t help. The day after this month’s first big snowstorm, the Home Shopping Network, which sells products on the Internet and on television, reported a new sales record. Marcus says that record came at the expense of businesses like his.

(Marcus) “Because everybody was snowed in, in the northeast and they shopped on the television or online, as opposed to getting out and shopping. So those dollars are not going to be recovered by the retail jeweler, the bricks and mortar jeweler, so that would be considered a loss.”

(Zind) If jewelry isn’t the first purchase that leaps to mind when a snow storm hits, items like gloves and boots are. That’s why the storms have been a boon for the Sam’s Department Stores in Brattleboro and Bellows Falls. Cold weather and snow can drive consumer gift choices and owner Stanley Borofsky says Sam’s has been selling lots of cold weather clothing and outdoor gear.

(Borofsky) “There’s certainly a different requirement when you have cold weather. People don’t think of computer games, when there’s a need for boots and jackets and hats.”

(Zind) Borofsky says sales have been heavy in the wake of the snowstorms and December business has been up almost eight percent over last year.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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