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Retailers’ Big Drift: Scurrying to Recover From White Weekend

Retailers in the Northeast got clobbered by this week’s snowstorm, but have plans to replay promotions to try to recoup sales.

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NEW YORK — Can retailers recoup from the blizzard?

Not much. But they’re looking to put some heat back into the business by replaying spring sales and extending winter clearances offered for President’s Day and last weekend.

The weekend is normally one of the biggest volume periods for spring merchandise, but this year was a washout through the Northeast and Central regions due to the blanket of snow, 20 inches or more in many major cities. Store executives, forever optimists, are anticipating some decent mall traffic later, as the ice and snow get cleared, since many schools are on vacation break this week or next.

Retail sales in the Northeast dropped 6 percent Saturday, 20.5 percent Sunday, and 54.6 percent Monday, according to the ShopperTrak National Retail Sales Estimate. ShopperTrak also estimated retailers in the Northeast alone lost $422 million in GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other store sales) for the three days. ShopperTrak provides store traffic systems for retailers, malls and casinos, and national benchmarks.

Sears, Roebuck & Co. which kept scores of stores closed in the Northeast and Central regions on Monday but reopened most of them on Tuesday, said President’s Day sales at impacted stores were being conducted Tuesday. And the chain is looking for another lift today through Saturday, with a preplanned credit sale, offering 10 percent off hardlines and 15 percent off softlines, if a customer uses the Sears credit card.

Kmart said 70 stores were closed Monday, all opened Tuesday, and that no makeup sales days were being planned, since specials were advertised on a roto insert that covered the week. However, Macy’s East plans a storewide, 25- to 50-percent-off sale, Thursday through Sunday, with steeper markdowns on clearance goods.

"We want to give our customers the same prices they would have gotten last Sunday and Monday," said Martine Reardon, executive vice president of marketing, Macy’s East. "Monday was a huge day to miss. Herald Square and our Florida stores were open, but 95 percent of our business wasn’t. It will be very, very difficult to make that back. People are not going to shop much today or tomorrow," with transportation still difficult.
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