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Is Old Man Winter Skewing the Retail Data?

He usually gives Santa a run for his money. Not this year. Old Man Winter has been tame in much of the country. Is his restraint skewing the retail data?

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"The biggest thing this season was the comparisons to last year. Last year, we had the 'Super Saturday' storm that impacted the whole I-95 corridor which is a huge chunk of humanity to the U.S.," said Paul Walsh, Atmospheric and Environmental Research Senior Vice President. "We had snowmaggedon. We dodged a bullet this year."

Walsh tracks the relationship between retail sales and the weather. He said this is the first time in two years there has been no major storm. The Minnesota area got nailed by snow this month, but unlike the Northeast, the region is not considered a big market for retailers.

"The Northeast market is clear and cold which is perfect weather for shopping," said Walsh.

Chain-store sales rose 4.2 percent last week, according to a survey by the International Council Of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs. It also found 74 percent were done shopping for the holidays. The numbers are considered strong.

Retailers may get a brutal wake-up call in the Northeast the day after Christmas. Forecasters are tracking a storm which has the potential to turn into a big event. Walsh said if the storm pans out, it could have a "significant impact" on post holiday sales traffic and gift card redemption.

And, that could create a big chill heading into 2011.


Stephanie is Squawk Box producer and senior NetNet retail correspondent. Follow her on twitter @StephLandsman

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