Warm Weather Cost Apparel Stores Hundreds of Millions This Fall and Winter

Who needs a heavy coat when it's nearly 70 degrees out?
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A shopper on Boxing Day. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A shopper on Boxing Day. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Though there's nothing like consecutive days spent wearing long underwear to make you forget the feeling of balmier times, east coasters may recall that before the weather recently snapped into face-freezing cold, temperatures during the late fall and early winter were, in fact, freakishly high. And while the mild weather stoked some people's paranoia about global warming, one group that had something to worry about in the very near term was clothing retailers. For those pushing puffer coats over the holidays, business was slow going.

According to data compiled by Planalytics, a research firm that tracks the impact of weather on businesses, the warmer temperatures cost apparel specialty stores — a category that excludes department stores and sporting goods stores — $572 million between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, compared to the same period last year. That breaks down to a loss of $185 million in November and $387 million in December. The clothing categories to suffer most aren't particularly surprising: Demand for winter coats dropped by 10 percent nationally (and by 25 and 21 percent in Philly and New York City, respectively), while interest in boots sunk 12 percent.

With the weather slipping back into a chillier range, perhaps shoppers will be rushing back into stores for heavy-duty coats and chunky knits. Retailers no doubt hope so.