Latest winter storm costs online retailers an estimated $35 million

January 28, 2015 02:03 PM

A winter storm that dumped up to three feet of snow on parts of the Northeast cost online retailers across the country an estimated $35 million, according to data compiled by Adobe.

The storm’s impact was outlined in a report from Adobe, which analyzed data from 400 major online retailers throughout the United States. Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst for the Adobe Digital Index, attributes the overall drop in sales to offices throughout the Northeast being closed. To put that into perspective, that $35 million total would account for about 4.5% of all e-commerce sales in the country in an average day.

Adobe got its $35 million estimate by analyzing data from its Adobe Marketing Cloud. The company says more than $7 out of every $10 spent with the top 500 online retailers goes through its marketing product. Adobe compare online sales data from the past ten days to sales on the day of the storm to reach its number. Gaffney says Adobe noticed a drop in traffic everywhere in the Northeast except for New York City, which didn’t see any decline in online shopping site visits. She attributes this to the fact that New York City residents generally don’t have to worry about shoveling snow and thus had more time to spend on other activities.

“During the work week, a lot of people really do shop from their work desktop,” she says. “You also have power outages and people out shoveling snow. They’re not shopping, they’re doing other things. It has a negative impact on e-commerce.”

But not all online retailers’ sales suffered during the storm.

Sam Sisakhti, founder of Boston-based online women’s fashion marketplace UsTrendy, tells Internet Retailer sales on Tuesday were up about 35% and it wound up being the retailer’s highest traffic and sales day since December.

UsTrendy, No. 888 in the Internet Retailer Second 500, closed its offices Tuesday, with customer service representatives taking orders from home.

“I think a lot of people were snowed in and were shopping online,” he says. “We kept the business open. We’re not happy about shoveling (snow) but we are happy about the sales.”

UsTrendy utilizes drop shipping, and many of its vendors are on the West Coast, so the retailer didn’t have to worry about delays in getting inventory out the door. Sisakhti says his head of vendor relations was in touch with vendors on the East Coast to handle any challenges.

Meanwhile, shipping issues continued for a second day in some portions of the Northeast. UPS Inc. says it will not make pickups or deliveries throughout Maine and in certain parts of Massachusetts and Eastern Long Island, NY that were affected by the storm, a total of about, 900 ZIP codes.

While UPS is delivering to more people today than it was yesterday, a UPS spokesman tells Internet Retailer things are not back to normal throughout the Northeast.

“While we have recovery underway, there still may be roadways and neighborhoods that are not yet safely accessible, and we continue to direct customers to track package status on,” she says.

The United States Postal Service says retail and delivery operations have been restored to most of the affected areas throughout New England, New York and New Jersey.




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