Winter weather proves costly for nation's economy

(NBC) - There was surprising news on the economy Friday.

January retail sales were up sharply, but that good news was partly blown away by the negative economic impact of this week's eastern seaboard blizzard and of Friday's snow storm in the south.

If you were going to buy a burger but you couldn't get out that money is lost to the economy.

Multiply that by 100 million people and 3 storms.

Today's surprisingly big snow, from Texas to Florida to Atlanta, will have the same kind of economic effect as this week's much bigger blizzard, that struck the middle Atlantic states.

When people are fighting a storm, they're not shopping.

It slows down traffic to malls, shopping centers, grocery stores, restaurants. All of that essentially gets shut down, because of the storms," said Scott Bernhardt of Planalytics.

In Washington, the blizzard's over, but snow banks still block ray's deli.

Owner June Lim's had a bad week.

"Three days we closed. So no money's coming in? That's right," said Lim.

Ironically the January retail report, out Friday, showed a surprising jump.

Sales up point 5 percent, led by big box stores like Walmart.

But Friday, the airlines are getting slammed again and trucking has been a mess for days.

Still, experts say, most of the snow's economic effect will melt away.

"I think it's going to put a dent in earnings, put a dent in spending and it'll slow down growth this quarter, but it won't be any permanent damage," said Lawrence Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute.

That flat screen TV that people planned to buy yesterday, they can still buy tomorrow when malls and stores expect to be jammed.

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