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Snow continues to pelt mid-Atlantic; retail chills


New York City Any plans retailers had for scoring satisfactory sales in February were swept away Wednesday as a second helping of heavy snow blanketed the Mid-Atlantic states.

Wednesday’s blizzard follows the biggest snowstorm to hit the Baltimore-Washington corridor in 90 years, according to a report by Marketwatch. As much as 20 inches of snow was expected from Virginia to New England, with several states urging motorists to stay inside and off the icy roads.

"It will have an adverse impact on comps," said Scott Krugman, spokesman for the National Retail Federation.

February is a transition month for most retailers. Along the East Coast, retailers are clearing out the remains of winter-related apparel and starting to showcase spring apparel lines. February sales are usually among the slowest of the year.

Some spring apparel sales will be pushed into March, said Eric Beder, retail analyst at Brean Murray Carret & Co. The storms "will be bad for the month but not bad for the quarter," Beder said. "The fashion retailers will feel it the most."

Retailers positioned in grocery-anchored centers are the most likely survivors of the snows, since category analysts say supermarkets are among the first to have their parking lots plowed.

Another category that may not only survive the blizzard, but actually shine is e-commerce. Stuck at home, consumers may turn to the Internet for their shopping needs. That could help to drive online sales this month, said NRF’s Krugman.

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