It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.
A winter storm moving toward the Eastern third of the country is expected to douse the region with cold rain, sleet and snow in the two days before the Thanksgiving holiday.
While this probably will cause travel headaches for fliers and drivers, once they arrive at their destinations, the frigid temperatures and newly clear skies should put people in the mood to shop, according to retail experts.
Coupled with pent-up demand and cabin fever, the seasonable weather may give retailers a boost in traffic and sales over Thanksgiving weekend, when the National Retail Federation expects up to 140 million people to shop.
"The best story in all of this, in my opinion, is that [the storm] clears out in time for a lot of the Thanksgiving shopping," said Scott Bernhardt, president of Planalytics, a consulting firm that analyzes weather's impact on consumer demand. "Everyone is in that holiday frame of mind—that's good news."
According to Planalytics data, major markets in the East are expected to be 10 to 25 degrees colder from Thursday through Sunday compared with the same period last year, and major markets in the Midwest, South Central U.S., Southwest and the Rockies region will also be much colder.
Temperatures likely won't be low enough to keep people inside, however, or even to prevent them from camping out for doorbuster deals, Bernhardt said.
Instead, experts said, the cold weather will help determine what people buy.
"If you're standing in a line to get into a store and you're freezing your butt off, you instinctively look for things that keep you warm," said Paul Walsh, chief meteorologist at The Weather Channel's WeatherFX.