Major Winter Storm Bears Down On The Northeast
All eyes are on an impending major winter storm that will bring heavy snow and coastal flooding to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast starting tomorrow affecting tens of millions of people. Preparations are in full swing across the region today as consumers flock to the grocery and big box stores to stock up on storm essentials. Conditions will start to deteriorate in earnest starting Wednesday afternoon and evening in the Mid-Atlantic and the storm will quickly pull away from the Northeast late Thursday night.
Forecast models are still fine-tuning snowfall amounts and the recent trend is to push the axis of heaviest snowfall farther north and west. A plowable snowfall is still anticipated around the I-95 corridor from Baltimore to New York City, but +1' snow amounts are likely to be just north and west of this area. This slight shift north and west would bring heavier than previously expected snow to the interior Northeast where it's completely reasonable to expect localized amounts of +2' of snow. This will be the biggest snowfall that many across the heavier populations of Mid-Atlantic and the southern portions of the Northeast have seen in a couple of years.
Regardless of recent shifts in snowfall forecast amounts and eventual outcome, media hype around the storm has consumers flocking to stores today to stock up on storm essentials. Stock outs of snow removal categories like snow blowers and shovels is expected. Suburban areas are likely to see the quickest stock outs. The combined factors of an extended "snow drought" and an influx of new residents that fled cities after the Covid-19 pandemic began may result in some surprises for retailers in these areas. Rock salt, snow toys, outerwear, and storm staples like milk, bread, and eggs will also see increased sales.
Sales of snow removal categories will easily increase triple digits versus last year near the major cities. Sales will still be strong in the interior, however, comparing to the same week last year which also brought snow to the interior Northeast, the sales lift may not be as great as locations closer to higher populations. Storm essentials, like milk, bread, and eggs likely will see double digit increases year-on-year, again with the greatest lift closer to the cities where a major storm has been advertised for several days now.
Store traffic disruptions, including store closures, will begin during the afternoon and evening hours tomorrow in the Mid-Atlantic and may carry over into the first part of Thursday as clean-up efforts begin. The interior Northeast and New England will see store traffic disruptions primarily late Wednesday and into Thursday. Gusty winds combined with heavy, wet snow is likely to cause scattered power outages throughout the region.