It was bad enough that a huge snow storm hit the East Coast the last weekend before Christmas. There are not any accurate figures about how much damage the blizzard did to store sales, but it's widely assumed the snow kept many shoppers at home. Experts have predicted that people who did not make it to the mall last weekend will use the day before Christmas to finish buying gifts and look for last-minute bargains.%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% But in the Midwest and Plains states, the chance for retailers to make up lost ground may be over. Another remarkably big storm is dumping snow, ice, and rain from Montana to Michigan and as far south as Oklahoma. Weather.com calls it "a holiday blizzard with historic snow and ice." Snow amounts will top two feet in some northern states and drifts may be more than twice that deep.
The National Retail Federation has estimated that store sales will drop by 1% this year. The two big storms may make that number optimistic. Some of the shortfall could be made up by e-commerce activity. People trapped in their homes by the bad weather can still use their PCs -- though it's getting a little late to expect a Christmas delivery.
If there was one year that retailers needed to be spared bad weather, it was 2009. The economic recovery is still fragile and consumer spending is at its heart. Now, the recovery may get buried in snow.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.
Another Storm Threatens Last Day of Holiday Shopping