Retail risk factor: Storm hit these stores hardest

The onslaught of snow that was expected to hit the Northeast may not have lived up to the hype, but that doesn't mean retailers are simply shaking off the chill.

The storm still managed to dump up to 30 inches of snow in parts of the region—keeping shoppers indoors and forcing the "closed" sign to hang in store windows.

While the storm isn't expected to put a major dent in retailers' sales, a handful of companies are most at risk of losing sales, thanks to store footprints that are heavily skewed to the Northeast.

A man walking with a shovel in Brooklyn, New York the morning after a major winter storm on January 27, 2015.
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According to a report by Cowen and Company analyst Oliver Chen, Vera Bradley and TJX are most susceptible to traffic declines resulting from the storm, with the Northeast region accounting for more than a quarter of their respective store bases.

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They're followed by Urban Outfitters and Lululemon, which each have 24 percent of their stores in the area, and Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle, with 23 percent exposure.

"We assume shopping disruptions related to the incoming blizzard could cause stores to close for four days," Chen wrote in a note to investors. That could lead to a 2 percent loss in sales, he said, but clarified that it "won't be detrimental" to retailers' fourth-quarter same-store sales.

Retailers weathering the storm
Retailers weathering the storm

"January 2015 month-to-date has been stronger from a traffic perspective vs. Jan. 2014," Chen said. "Additionally, weather disruptions in 2014 in the Midwest were not repeated this year, which could bring further upside to January vs. last year."

Read MoreStorm forecast for business: No big deal

He also pointed out that the timing of the storm will limit the impact of the store closures. That's because January is typically a clearance month, and it only accounts for about 20 percent of the quarter's sales. What's more, the storm hit during the week, when there's less store traffic.

Retailers should also see a halo effect from the temperature plunge that preceded the storm, which caused shoppers to stock up on cold-weather items such as sweaters and outerwear, according to Janney Capital Markets analyst Adrienne Yih-Tennant.

Chen added that the snowstorm will cause some sales to simply shift to the Web. Retailers including Bed Bath & Beyond and DSW played to this trend on Tuesday by promoting their online stores via e-mail marketing.

According to Retail Metrics forecasts, retailers are expected to report their best holiday sales growth in three years during the fourth quarter.