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How is winter storm affecting holiday travel? (+video)

The storm has already dumped up to eight inches of snow in Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Every region receiving snow this week is expected to have a white Christmas.

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An intense winter storm moving across the Midwest not only is affecting holiday travel, but is also likely to factor into a retail season that falls short of earlier projections.

Because of the storm, ShopperTrak, a national retail analysis firm in Chicago, is lowering its holiday sales forecast. It now says that total holiday sales, encompassing November and December, will increase about 2.5 percent from the previous winter season – which is down from the 3.3 percent it projected in September.

But the storm is just one of the recent events affecting retail business, says Bill Martin, ShopperTrak’s founder. Other events that have put a damper on shopping are superstorm Sandy, the national discussion surrounding the “fiscal cliff,” and the mass shooting last week in Newtown, Conn.

The combined effect: Shoppers are likely to have weightier issues on their minds going into the final stretch before Christmas than spending money.

“Sandy took a small slice of the economic pie and disrupted it,” Mr. Martin says. “The fiscal cliff situation and the tragedy in Connecticut both put a different tone on the holiday. People are saying, ‘I want to give my kid a hug for Christmas instead of a toy.’ ”


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