Remarkably apt, the 1934 song Winter Wonderland flowed from loudspeakers at the heavily frosted Sundance Square Plaza on Friday, but few downtown retailers were open to hear the seasonal tune. And few pedestrians braved the shoveled sidewalks.
The ice storm was inopportune for the region’s retail market during two important days of the holiday gift-buying period, made all the more crucial because it’s six days shorter than last year, said consultant Al Meyers, Dallas-based director of retail and consumer practice at PWC, formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“It may be an additional boost to already robust online shopping that has been done in the last couple of weeks,” Meyers said. “But this ice storm will put more pressure on the remaining days for in-store sales and traffic-driving events.”
Downtown retailers including Leddy’s, Loft, Retro Cowboy and Haltom’s Jewelers had signs in their windows saying they were closed because of the weather.
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“This obviously creates pent-up demand for those who want to make purchases in stores and may create traffic once the storm clears,” Meyers said. “In the short term, it will affect sales. If it was a little closer to the holiday, I’d be more worried. But there’s plenty of time to make up for it.”
Dallas-based and Japanese-owned 7-Eleven said its North Texas stores were a mixed picture.
“Some are very busy, others not so much,” spokeswoman Margaret Chablis said. “Some of our urban/downtown stores are getting a lot of foot traffic. A freeway store has gone through two pallets of firewood. Across the Fort Worth market, sales were very brisk [Thursday] because people were planning ahead/stocking up for the overnight storm.”
At Kroger, about 60 percent of employees made it to work, spokesman Gary Huddleston said. “This somewhat mirrors the business. We had a record day Thursday.”
Two funeral homes, Greenwood and Brown Owens & Brumley, said no burials were canceled Friday. Chris Brown of Brown Owens said she expected limousines to be about 15 minutes late picking up family members at their homes for a late morning funeral at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
The city’s oldest florist, Gordon Boswell Flowers, was operating. “We are a little delayed but taking orders and still making deliveries,” said Dayna Giannakopoulos, assistant general manager of the 94-year-old shop in the hospital district. “We have called some people to ask if they were OK with later deliveries.”
George Salinas, owner of G&M Tires at 3524 South Hills Ave. near TCU, sent his workers home at noon when no customers materialized. “We had just one call, and it was from a solicitor trying to peddle a new credit card machine,” Salinas said. “We did sell 12 sets of tire chains on Thursday to JPS Hospital for their vans.”