Cold snap impacts holiday shopping

MINNEAPOLIS -- Even some people hot on holiday shopping this year might be chilling out.

"We're from Minnesota, so we should be used to this (cold weather)," said Gary Harker of Apple Valley. "Although it is a little early."

Early and extreme, with temperatures below zero every night since last week, this is the coldest early December in 17 years.

The good news for retailers is that it's always warm in a shopping mall. That's one reason Mall of America says its numbers this year are up.

"You will see some guests walking around saying, 'It just feels so good to be inside,'" said Dan Jasper, Mall of America spokesperson.

But most aren't just looking. Some experts say the cold and snow put shoppers in a holiday mood that makes them buy, especially things like warm clothing, winter gear and things for the home.

"Our numbers are up, which is good," Jasper said. "And we do think the cold weather will drive even more people into indoor spaces."

Yet outdoor malls are seeing crowds, too. The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove says chilly weather means people often come for specific stores, doing less browsing but sometimes more buying.

And when it's really cold?

"I don't usually go out unless I have to -- unless it's (for) groceries," said Jenna Christopherson, of Rochester.

"Then I just wrap up in a blanket and watch movies and online shop," agreed Kelly Stanton, of Rochester.

Some analysts say that could hurt certain retailers, especially those that still rely on brick and mortar sales. But with just four weekends this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, most experts agree: no weather will stop shoppers who still want to get presents--and to give them,

"You park the car once, you run back and forth with the gifts," Harker said. "(You can) come back in and stay nice and warm."

Mall of America has free valet parking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 1 to 7 pm through Christmas Eve.

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