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Blizzard Whitewashes Holiday Sales

December 13, 2010, 9:46 PM by Nicole Winters

Blizzard Whitewashes Holiday Sales
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The weekend blizzard forced many businesses across eastern KELOLAND to close Saturday including the Empire Mall. 

The storm wiped out sales on a normally busy shopping day.  Now, retailers are crossing their fingers they make up the loss.

With less than two weeks before Christmas, shoppers are storming the stores.

"I’m way behind this year," shopper Julie Klein said.

But for those who hoped to finish up or even begin their holiday shopping this past weekend, Mother Nature had other plans.

"It was terrible.  I was stuck in Milwaukee and I couldn't get home through Minnesota," shopper Juli Huber said.

Much of eastern KELOLAND was bogged down with snow and wind, forcing even the Empire Mall to close its doors four hours early in the heart of the holiday shopping season.

“We had to make a very tough call," Empire Mall Marketing Manager Chrissy Spoo said.

A hard call to make because last year the Saturday two weeks before Christmas was the highest grossing Saturday of the season, something retailers hoped they could count on once again.

“When stores are calling us telling us they can't in good conscious have their employees come to work, we just couldn’t keep the mall open at that point. It really did come down to safety," Spoo said.

Spoo says retailers reported losing anywhere between 30 to 70 percent because of Saturday's snow storm. But she says sales were so great leading up to this weekend, she's confident any loss will be made up.

“It's actually fortunate that it happened this early in the season.  It's the middle of December but we still have another really good weekend to go," Spoo said.

Last minute shoppers up to Christmas Eve are also expected to spike sales, as long as the weather holds out.

“More than anything, we need the weather to cooperate. That is really the bellwether for what the season is going to be," Spoo said.

Spoo says the mall averages about one closure a year.  Last year the mall didn’t close but did open four hours late on the day after Christmas, also because of the weather.

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