By Sarah Morgan
This year’s mild winter may have a gift in store for post-holiday shoppers, say retail pros: Deeper discounts on jackets, sweaters, scarves, and boots.
Retail sales for the week ending Christmas Eve were up 4.3% compared to the same week last year, but sales of winter apparel have been slow, according to the Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index released this morning. Some retailers are starting to cut prices on outerwear, the report noted. “Weather driven” demand for winter jackets is down 7% this year compared to last year, according to Planalytics, a research firm that focuses on the effect of weather on businesses, while demand for boots is down 17%. “This December has been very warm, and that’s helped foot traffic, but the warm weather has suppressed demand for things like sweaters and boots,” says Evan Gold, a senior vice president for client services at Planalytics.
Those slower holiday sales should mean deeper discounts in the coming weeks, retail experts say. “There’s a runway for those items. They’ve got to be out by the end of January,” Gold says. Most retailers will start pushing spring items in February, and for many, the end of January is the end of their fiscal year, so they need to sell those winter items, he says.
Of course, retailers’ post-holiday sales always include discounts on outerwear, says Dan de Grandpre, the CEO and editor-in-chief of DealNews.com. So far, discounts on winter gear are about in line with the deals offered last year, de Grandpre says. Traditionally, discounts get deeper further into January, starting at “outdoorsy” retailers like L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, and REI, and moving into the department stores and other retailers, he says. “There are substantial discounts still coming,” and slower sales likely mean shoppers can expect to find their size and favorite color on the clearance rack in a few weeks, he says.
Stores may also offer “just-in-time deals” whenever the weather does turn colder, says Michelle Madhok, an online shopping expert and the founder of SheFinds.com. Online retailers in particular can change prices quickly to capture the shopper who’s waited to buy a winter coat until it actually starts snowing, she says.