Why trudge through the snow and slush to find that perfect gift when you could order it from your couch, cup of cocoa in hand?
The second winter storm of the holiday season is making its way through the Midwest and toward the Northeast this weekend, dumping snow, ice and rain on shoppers just as the holiday crunch intensifies.
Experts said the storm will keep most shoppers indoors this weekend, taking a bite out of the already weak brick-and-mortar traffic seen this season. But while the wet weather and below-freezing temperatures will put off some shoppers—maybe even causing them to cut back on unnecessary purchases—large retailers with online operations will be able to salvage some sales because the blow will fall before free shipping offers expire.
(Read more: Let it snow: Determined shoppers will 'find a way')
"If historical patterns hold … we should see a pretty significant spike in online traffic," said Scott Bernhardt, president of Planalytics, a consulting firm that analyzes the effect of weather on consumer demand.
ComScore said there is typically more online spending in the first and fourth quarters, coinciding with the seasonally cold months. But it's difficult to gauge a particular storm's impact on Internet sales, said Andrew Lipsman, vice president of marketing and insights.
This storm will have the opposite effect on physical stores than the one that brought pre-Black Friday slush to much of the U.S. Then, the weather cleared before the critical holiday weekend, driving demand from those looking to get out of the house and enhance their winter wardrobes.