By Mae Anderson, AP Retail Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — An East Coast snowstorm put a damper on after-Christmas shopping Sunday. But shoppers across the rest of the country searched clearance racks and spent gift cards in the afterglow of the best holiday season for retailers since 2007.
Blizzard warnings stretched from New Jersey to Maine. Forecasters expected up to 20 inches of snow in Philadelphia and Boston and up to 16 inches in New York City.
"The forecast will tend to keep (shoppers) at home. It's not the best day for shopping," said Scott A. Bernhardt, chief operating officer at weather research firm Planalytics.
The storm had malls from the Carolinas through New Jersey closing early, including MacArthur Center in Norfolk, Va., and three Tanger Outlets centers in Delaware and on Long Island, N.Y.
The timing could have been worse for retailers. Last year, a snowstorm hit the East Coast the Saturday before Christmas, costing them about $2 billion lost sales.
"People will just wait a day to do exchanges and use their gift cards. It's no big deal," said Greg Maloney, CEO of the retail practice of Jones Lang LaSalle, which manages malls across the country.
Besides the East Coast, shoppers came out in force on Sunday. The nation's largest mall, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., expected 100,000 shoppers. A respite from heavy snow that's battered the Twin Cities brought in the big crowd.
The mall expects its stores' holiday revenue to rise 8 percent over last year, mall spokesman Dan Jasper said.