Reports: Polar vortex drives blizzard of sales for some retailers

Sales of food ahead of record cold at some Kroger locations rival busiest days of holiday season

NEW YORK — At least two retailers in areas affected by record-low temperatures that have put much of the country under a deep freeze have seen a big spike in sales as consumers stock up on supplies, according to published reports.

The Lexington, Ky., Herald-Leader reported that shoppers at Meijer and Kroger stores in the state had cleared shelves of food items like break, milk, soup and beer. Neither retailer would release sales numbers, but Meijer said its stores were "very busy," while shopper traffic at Kroger rivaled that of the busiest days of the holiday shopping season, and the company's distribution center had to call in extra workers and truck drivers to replenish store shelves.

The effects on retail sales of the cold snap affecting two-thirds of the United States this week remain to be seen. The weather phenomenon known as the polar vortex, a mass of freezing-cold air from the Arctic, has caused temperatures to fall below zero in much of the United States, with wind chills as low as 50 degrees below zero, prompting the National Weather Service to discourage people in many areas from venturing outside. Many retailers in the Northeast saw upticks in sales in the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 as consumers stocked up on supplies to weather the storm, but store closures and other factors weighed down on retail sales for the month of November. 

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