All clear for Black Friday

The busiest shopping weekend of the year is just around the corner and retailers who don’t hit their sales plan won’t be able to blame the weather.

Conditions nationwide Thanksgiving weekend are expected to be near ideal, according to the weather intelligence firm Planalytics. On the heels of Superstorm Sandy and a recent Nor’Easter, consumers are ‘weather weary’ and looking for a respite from the extreme weather conditions, according to the firm. After a nice upcoming weekend for most, East Coast residents may be bracing for another round of rough weather early to mid-week.  A storm system moving through the Southeast and up the East Coast Monday through Wednesday looks to bring periods of heavy rain and strong winds although generally limited to coastal areas. This is likely to impact those still cleaning up from Sandy’s aftermath. Some snow is possible in higher elevations. 
Planalytics said it expects conditions to improve just in time for the Black Friday weekend. Temperatures in the East and Midwest will trend cooler than normal and much cooler compared to a very warm Black Friday last year. Businesses can anticipate these cooler conditions to continue with a generally drier trend right through the holiday weekend.  Interior locations are expected to trend warmer than normal, but still cooler than last year. The strongest possibility for rain will be in the Pacific Northwest, no surprise there, extending down towards San Francisco, with snowfall limited to higher elevations. Most western locations will trend near to slightly cooler than normal, according to Planalytics.
Based on the cooler year-over-year temperatures, weather will help drive demand for seasonal gift-giving categories including sweaters, jackets, boots, scarves, hats, and gloves. Overall foot traffic into malls and shopping centers should be similar to slightly favorable compared to last year.

That’s good news for retailers who are heading into the holidays with the usual amount of uncertainty about spending levels and projections that call for a deceleration in growth when compared to the prior year.

According to the National Retail Federation, Black Friday weekend last year accounted for a record 226 million shoppers, including 29 million consumers who reportedly hit the store on Thanksgiving night. While Black Friday represents the largest volume day of the weekend, the remaining days of the weekend also see significant amounts of foot traffic. In addition, Cyber Monday, which falls on the first workday following Thanksgiving, represents the ceremonial kickoff to the online holiday shopping season. Last year, according to the NRF, approximately 123 million shoppers were looking to make a purchase online, with an estimated $1.25 billion spent.

Those who don’t hit stores Thanksgiving weekend willl have plenty of time to go shopping as Thanksgiving falls on November 22, the earliest date possible, which will result in the greatest number of shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.