H&M Joins GAP in Reporting U.S. Weather Hurt Store Visits

Hennes & Mauritz AB, Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer, said severe winter weather cut visits to its U.S. stores last month, joining competitor GAP Inc. in outlining the effects of record snow and cold.

“It is and has been very cold in the U.S. and that has impacted customer traffic negatively,” Nils Vinge, head of investor relations, said by phone, declining to provide details.

Service industries in the U.S. expanded at the slowest pace in four years in February following unusually harsh weather, a business survey showed on March 5. New York had the most days of snowfall exceeding 3 inches of any winter since the 1960-61 season as of Feb. 14, according to Weather 2000 Inc. Business in Atlanta was disrupted last month by repeated winter storms following a record snowfall at the end of January.

GAP, the biggest U.S. apparel-focused retailer, said yesterday that sales at stores open at least a year fell 7 percent in February, compared with a 3 percent gain a year earlier. More than 450 of GAP’s stores in the U.S. as well as Japan couldn’t open at some point last month due to weather, the San Francisco-based group said in a statement.

H&M dropped as much as 1.1 percent, reversing a gain from earlier in the day, and was trading down 0.5 percent at 286.7 kronor at 3:32 p.m. in Stockholm, the retailer’s headquarters city. The company will report February sales on March 17. GAP fell as much as 2.3 percent and was trading down 1.9 percent at $41.47 at the opening in New York.

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