When we think of ways in which our polar vortex of a winter may have impacted retailers in the state, the most obvious is the inability for consumers to get to the stores…inability or the complete unwillingness to leave one’s home brought on by -25⁰ F temperatures, perhaps. But as Roberta Bonoff, founder and owner of Creative Kidstuff and one of the participants in the May 5 Intersections event pointed out, “that’s only the start of it.”

“When we have a season of heavy snowfall, driving is certainly impacted…but that typically gets taken care of by road crews. The longer-term impact is on the parking spaces available at malls or single stores. As snow piles up, it has to be stored somewhere. Our lot [at the Galleria in Edina] lost a high percentage of parking spaces over the course of the winter, leaving shoppers frustrated.”

Bonoff was joined by Dave Brennan, Ph.D., professor of marketing at the college and co-director, along with Lorman Lundsten, Ph.D., of the Institute for Retailing Excellence. As Brennan noted, retail growth in December and January was 0.1% as opposed to the expected 1.1%, a direct result of the weather. “Retail sale were down .4% in January and February across all categories – except building materials, electronics, food and beverage.”

While brick and mortar retailers felt the impact of the weather, even online retailers took a hit as delivery companies such as Federal Express and UPS experienced weather-related delays. As a business owner focused on creating a meaningful customer experience, Bonoff noted that “there is nothing worse than being told you’ve ruined someone’s Christmas because you couldn’t deliver.”

Watch the full Intersections in Consumer Behavior event.