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Blizzard won't derail holiday season sales

The Associated Press

ATLANTA - The blizzard that swept through the Northeast on Sunday and Monday delayed $1 billion in retail spending, according to research firm ShopperTrak, but won't derail a holiday shopping season expected to be the best since 2007.

The effect won't be as bad a 2009 pre-Christmas storm that paralyzed parts of the East Coast. That cost retailers an estimated $2 billion, according to weather research firm Planalytics.

About $10 billion in retail sales usually occurs Dec. 26-27, ShopperTrak said Wednesday. Bad weather likely delayed about 10 percent of that.

The storm's effects weren't enough to change ShopperTrak's estimate for a 4 percent gain over last year in revenue for the Nov. 1-Dec. 31 holiday season. Retailers will still see much of the spending when shoppers return to stores as streets are cleared and transportation restored.

Many Long Islanders have returned to the malls and shopping centers. Simon Property Group Inc.'s Long Island malls - which include Roosevelt Field in East Garden City and Smith Haven in Lake Grove - were very busy Wednesday, which is usual for the week following Christmas, a spokesman said. The Tanger Outlet Centers in Riverhead also reported normal shopping traffic for the post-holiday week.

This year's storm cost retailers 11.2 percent of their foot traffic Sunday and 13.9 percent Monday, ShopperTrak estimates.

The fact that the day after Christmas fell on a Sunday this year might have hurt sales a bit even where it didn't snow, ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said, because of local laws that limit or ban Sunday hours.

Dec. 26 will rank as the 10th-busiest day of the holiday shopping season, the firm estimates. Last year it was second-busiest behind Black Friday.

Black Friday was also the busiest shopping day this year, with $10.69 billion in sales. Coming in second was Dec. 23, as last-minute shoppers picked up $7.86 billion in gifts and other items and gave retailers a strong finish.

Strong sales the week ending Dec. 31 - which account for about 15 percent of total holiday spending - could make this year the best holiday season ever. With Keiko Morris

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