For the majority of the U.S., particularly on the East Coast, weather patterns throughout November and December have been unseasonably warm this year. For example, Christmas Eve temperature projections in New York are expected to reach as high as 71 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the trend may be enjoyable for potential shoppers, retailers are eyeing the thermometer with dread. In fact, weather analytics tracking firm Planalytics informed Fortune that retailers have lost $421 million in sales this holiday season due to the warmer weather patterns.
Apparel and accessories stores are getting the worst end of the bargain, as consumers decide to forgo purchasing the winter items that traditionally dominate holiday sales. Jackets, scarves, sweaters, boots, comforters and any outdoors items that are quick to fly off the shelves late in the year haven’t left the store.
“People are getting into the habit of not putting on their coats, and they are going outside to play sports or work on projects,” said Scott Bernhardt, President of Planalytics, said in an interview with CNBC. “We are not just talking about a pleasant day or two. The warm weather this season has been a sustained phenomenon.”
Department stores had already been having difficulty earning profits prior to the holiday season, and were banking on the normally inevitable temperature dip to make up for lost sales. To no avail, it hasn’t happened yet, leaving many of these retailers with overstocked shelves and underperforming results.
With excess inventory lingering throughout many of these retail chains, expect markdowns to continue even further beyond the holiday season, even if the temperatures finally begin to drop down to seasonal levels.