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Storm's Coming and Some Retailers in the Will Be Buried Worse than Others

An unusual December blizzard is aiming for the Northeast this last weekend before Christmas, which isn't necessarily good for retailers hoping to get one last chance at shoppers before clearance season, but some have more exposure than others.

A few retailers will even come out ahead. Home centers, for example, should get a boost and maybe even a few dollars frugal consumers had targeted for Christmas celebrations that they now will lay out for shovels and rock salt earlier than they anticipated.

Grocery stores also should get a boost as consumers who might worry about road conditions stock up for this weekend and maybe even next weekend's celebrations just in case the weather turns out to be a particular problem. A&P (GAP) even is promoting storm kits.

Yet, many retailers will get slammed. Some observers have attached the label Super Saturday to that particular Saturday before Christmas, and Planalytics, the business weather tracking and forecasting service, says that $15 billion is traded on the day. According to Planalytics, that total makes Super Saturday the biggest single shopping day of the year.

The forecaster is looking for a storm tracking right up Megalopolis from below Virginia up to Boston and beyond with New York right in the middle. Major population centers in the East may expect the heaviest impact on Saturday, although, some more up-to-date forecasts suggests that New York and north may be spared heavy snow on at least early on Saturday. Sunday, though, looks to be a white out for the whole region.

But who will really be hit? That depends heavily on what proportion of a chain will see the effects of the storm. According to Planalytics retailers that operate a significant proportion of stores where the snow will fall include:

Bon Ton (BONT): 76%

DSW Shoes (DSW): 44%

Kohl's (KSS): 40%

American Eagle (AEO): 37%

Lowe's (LOW): 37%

T.J. Maxx (TJX): 36%

Family Dollar (FDO): 36%

Sears (SHLD): 35%

Macy's (M): 35%

Target (TGT): 31%

Walmart (WMT): 29%

Those numbers spell some proportion of bad news for retailers, well most retailers, anyway. The only bad news for Lowe's is that it won't be selling shovels and salt through a larger percentage of its stores. Other retailers have to worry that consumer may actually give up on a second or third present for someone on a Christmas list. Gift cards could get a boost, though, particularly those sold by third parties through outlets such as grocery stores consumers are likely to shop because of the storm. Certainly, Blackhawk can count on more consumers considering a purchase from its supermarket-based gift card kiosks, which offer chits from everyone from Olive Garden to Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBBY).

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