They threw open their windows, sat outside in parks, chatted outdoors with jackets off. On an unseasonably warm day in New York — where 70-degree temperatures surpassed those in Los Angeles — the weather gave many residents a reason to enjoy being outside.
But for scarf and glove vendors, firewood sellers, heating oil companies and others whose fortunes rise in the cold, the weather was another reason to groan in a winter that has rarely delivered a frost.
“We’ve sold a fraction, somewhere between a quarter and a third of what we would normally sell shovel-wise and salt-wise for winters past,” said Joe Franquinha, the owner of Crest Hardware in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
There are difficulties weathering winter — already a slow season — without much, well, winter, Mr. Franquinha said. Stocking a store like his requires preparation: thousands of dollars worth of salt, shovels, space heaters and window insulation need to be ready the instant the forecast calls for a heavy snow or cold snap.
Order too little, Mr. Franquinha said, and customers will gripe upon finding your shelves bare. And in New York, who has space for too much? His distributors had taken to bartering their winter wares at steep discounts, Mr. Franquinha said. Still, he wasn’t…