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Boston’s Blizzard Dipped Consumer Spending

The heavy snow that recently befell the people of Boston likewise froze out consumer spending in the region.

According to a SpendTrend report from First Data, during a one-month stretch beginning with Boston’s first major snowfall on Jan. 24, more than 25,000 merchants in the the greater Boston metropolitan area suffered a substantial 6.2 percent drop in overall spending. By contrast, nationwide spending was up 1.5 percent for the same time period.

“While Boston always experiences cold winters, the severity of the storms this year resulted in a major decrease in consumer spending, particularly in merchant establishments that rely on foot traffic or available parking,” Krish Mantripragada, SVP of Information and Analytics Solutions for First Data, said in a company press release. “In 2014, Boston actually saw a modest year-over-year spending growth of 0.9 percent, which was in line with the national average of 1.3 percent. The 2015 winter weather caused spending to plummet 6.2 percent, a notable difference from the positive growth of 1.5 percent that merchants nationwide enjoyed.”

In comparing spending trends between Jan. 24-Feb. 22 of this year to the same period last year, First Data analyzed the greater Boston metropolitan area and all of New England, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. To incorporate a nationwide comparison, First Data examined spending trends for the time period at more than 4 million merchants throughout the U.S.

The biggest decline in spending for both Boston and New England occurred during Winter Storm Juno, which took place between Jan. 26- Jan. 28. The hardest hit retail category was furniture and home furnishings, which fell 14.7 percent. First Data notes that clothing and accessory stores and general merchandise stores in the areas affected by the heavy snowfall also experienced a dip in spending, down 6.3 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

On the flipside, grocery stores in New England saw an uptick in sales during the period analyzed, increasing 7.9 percent.

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