The deep freeze of the Northeast this winter had a dramatic impact on consumer spending in January and February. Boston merchants showed a drastic drop of 6.2% in overall spending during this period of historic blizzards.
According to a new SpendTrend report from First Data, Boston was hit harder by the storms than the rest of New England, where consumer spending decreased 4.4% year-over-year. The biggest decline in spending for both Boston and New England occurred during Winter Storm Juno, which took place between January 26 and 28 and dumped between 20 and 30 inches of snow on Boston and surrounding cities and towns. By last count, Boston has received 105.7 inches of snow this winter, just shy of the 107.6 inches received during the record winter of 1995-1996.
Amid the bad weather that challenged New Englander’s perseverance, there were winners in the retail mix, including grocery stores, which experienced a 7.9% increase in spending, compared to an increase of 4.9% last year. Additionally, the volume of transactions almost doubled year-over-year for food and beverage stores. New Englanders seemingly preferred to eat at home rather than dine out as restaurant and bar spending decreased 1.2%, a notable change from last year’s positive growth of 7.5% within the category.
The retail category in New England impacted the most by the snow was furniture and home furnishings, down 14.7%. Clothing and accessory stores and general merchandise stores also experienced a dip in spending, down 6.3% and 2.9%, respectively.
SpendTrend tracks same-store point-of-sale data by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks.
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