East coast blizzard to boost online shopping?

Faith Merino · December 27, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/1545

If last year's numbers are any indication, east coast shoppers will flock to the Web

Shopping doesn’t stop at Christmas.  After the holidays have ended, retailers keep up the shopping festivities with steep discounts and bargains that rival those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  But as the east coast gets mired in snow, a lot of consumers’ shopping plans are likely to move away from brick-and-mortar stores toward online retailers. 

The first blizzard of the season slammed the east coast over Christmas weekend, forcing the cancelation of some 2,000 flights and shutting down Amtrak on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.  A blizzard of similar proportions hit the east coast this time last year, and while traditional retailers suffered major blows as shoppers were unable to dig their cars out of the snow, data revealed that many of those shoppers went online to get their deals. 

Last year, total online sales saw a 13% increase over the weekend of December 19 and 20, the last shopping weekend before Christmas in 2009, and one that saw heavy snowfall along the east coast.  The snowstorm capped out that week in 2009 at $4.8 billion.

Additionally, sales and conversion rates were higher during last year’s December blizzard than before the blizzard hit—rising 15% over the snowy weekend.

But last year’s snowstorm took its toll on the retail industry as a whole, which lost $2 billion overall due to the storm.  Analysts estimate that mall traffic—which accounts for a third of retail sales on the Saturday before Christmas—was down 10%.

Early and intense snowstorms across Europe crippled online retail in a number of western European countries.   Britain has been slammed with what has been called the worst winter in 30 years, and several e-retailers were forced to cancel hundreds of Christmas orders as they were unable to get them out on time. 

“The extreme weather earlier this month affected deliveries to our warehouses and the recent snow has made it difficult to dispatch items to customers,” said Jamie Darby, spokesperson for British toystore Smyths Toys, in a prepared statement two weeks ago.  “It is with great regret that we have found it necessary to cancel a number of orders – in the hundreds – because it would have been impossible to get them to customers.”

As of mid-December, the snowstorms were so bad that many European and UK-based e-retailers began warning customers that orders placed after that point would not be delivered by Christmas.

Airports across Europe were forced to shut down, including Britain’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports, Hungary’s Budapest airport, Dublin airport, airports in Croatia and Italy, and Amsterdam’s Schipol airport, where 3,000 passengers were forced to sleep in the terminals overnight on Friday, December 17.

Image source: msnbc.msn.com

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes