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Forecasting a busy Super Saturday for retailers

For those of you waiting until the very last minute to finish—or in some cases, start—your holiday shopping, here's some good news.

Although there's a storm brewing on the West Coast, bringing with it the possibility of rain and snow across the U.S., experts are calling for relatively good weather during the final shopping weekend of the holiday season, a critical time for retailers to snatch up last-minute sales.

According to Scott Bernhardt, president of global business weather intelligence firm Planalytics, most of the major population centers across the U.S. will not be impacted by winter storms during their peak shopping hours—in particular, on Super Saturday.


Outside the Barneys New York store on Wooster Street in New York City's SoHo neighborhood.
Ron Antonelli | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Outside the Barneys New York store on Wooster Street in New York City's SoHo neighborhood.

Planalytics anticipates a big rainstorm will move through Houston, New Orleans and Atlanta this weekend, with the possibility for snow flurries in New York City on Sunday. Paul Walsh, vice president of weather analytics at The Weather Company, added that western Washington and Oregon will be hit with rain and wind, but "shoppers there are pretty resilient to rain."

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The Weather Company, like CNBC, is a unit of NBCUniversal.

"Despite some of the hype you've been hearing I think it's [overall] good news," Bernhardt said.

Retail experts have been keeping a close eye on the forecast for the final weekend before Christmas, which is expected to be one of the busiest periods of the holiday shopping season. ShopperTrak is particularly bullish on Super Saturday, predicting that for the first time in 10 years, it will be the biggest sales day of the year. The analytics firm expects that Super Saturday alone will rake in $10 billion.

The final weekend before Christmas is typically one of the busiest of the year for physical stores because by that point, many retailers' standard shipping deadlines for online orders have already passed. That means if consumers want their items in time for Christmas, they need to leave the house to get them.

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Though the looming Christmas deadline typically provides enough impetus to force last-minute shoppers to battle the elements, having a severe winter storm in those final days can heavily weigh on retailers' sales, Bernhardt said. If consumers are killing themselves just to get to the mall, he said, they're not interested in sticking around and buying things for themselves, or making additional trips later on that weekend.

"Some of the purchases come back; a lot of them do not," he said. "The real question is what people are not buying."

Still, retailers aren't totally in the clear yet. Bernhardt said Planalytics is carefully watching a storm that could threaten the Great Lakes region on Christmas Eve and then move east, which could potentially impact shopping on the 26th. Experts anticipate the day after Christmas will be a particularly big shopping event this year, since the holiday falls on a Thursday. That means many offices will be closed on Friday and into the weekend.

Bernhardt cautioned that it's too early to tell if the storm will take shape and have an impact on sales.

Regardless of any pending storms, the weather so far this holiday season has been far more agreeable than in 2013, when a string of retailers blamed winter weather for their poor sales.

Read MoreCold weather to drive demand at retail

During the second week of December 2013, for example, temperatures around most of the U.S. were between 3 degrees and 15 degrees below average, according to the National Climatic Data Center. This year, the majority of the U.S. experienced above- or on-average temperatures that week.

On top of that, December 2013 saw snowfall that was 21 percent above normal, with much of the wintry conditions felt in the highly populated eastern part of the U.S., according to the Fung Business Intelligence Centre.

Although there's an argument to be made that less wintry weather will cause consumers to cut back on cold-weather apparel purchases, the traffic boost will outweigh that decline, Bernhardt said.

"If you can't make money in this weather, it ain't the weather," he said.