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Chilly Spring May Not Be All Bad for Retailers

Althea Chang
Big Data Download

Consumers seem to be gearing up for warm weather even if temperatures aren't quite cooperating, according to recent Yahoo! search trend data.

Despite a colder-than-average spring, swim wear, sandals and sunglasses are on the minds of Yahoo! search users, and more so than they were at this time a year ago.

For instance, searches on Yahoo! for sunglasses were up 140 percent in the 30 days ending March 26. And consumers appear to be willing to splurge a little more than they were last year. Searches for "Chanel sunglasses" are up 475 percent in the same period.

These search trends could be a positive sign for retailers, who've been offering deals and discounts just to get rid of the spring inventory that's been piling up in stores over the past few months.

"People don't buy based on the calendar, they buy based on how they feel," said Paul Walsh, vice president of data analytics at The Weather Channel.

Standalone retail stores were the hardest hit by weather conditions early this spring, said Dan Hess, president and retail analyst at research firm Merchant Forecast. Hess says foot traffic at destination stores isn’t as high as at those connected to malls. That means some Kohl's (KSS), TJ Maxx (TJX) and Target (TGT) stores have to rely heavily on sales to attract shoppers.

The outlook for both the weather and retail sales should be brighter later this month, however, Walsh told Big Data Download. He expects spring apparel to fly off the shelves as the weather warms up next week.