Chicago weather: Near-record warmth to continue through weekend

CHICAGO (WLS) -- ABC7 Meteorologist Cheryl Scott says the Chicago area saw near-record warmth Thursday, with temperatures reaching 57 degrees at O'Hare Airport - that's only 5 degrees below the record set in 1879.

Temperatures are expected to continue to climb throughout the weekend, reaching 62 degrees on Sunday.

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The mild weather may be deterring traditional cold-weather activities, but some businesses are hoping the warmer temperatures bring out more holiday shoppers.

The Polar Peak Sledding Hill at the MB Financial Park in Rosemont has been rendered useless for now due to the lack of freezing temperatures.

And although unseasonably warm weather has put a freeze on efforts by those in the business of winter to draw holiday crowds, park officials hope balmy climate will actually draw people to their other winter attraction: the ice skating rink.

"We're really excited that that's still going to bring the foot traffic and hopefully make up for the Polar Peak not being open," said Sarah Clemmesen, MB Financial Park event manager.

Some area department stores are also feeling the burn of the warmer weather when it comes to sales.

Industry analysts say retailers, already struggling with slow sales and a glut of winter inventory, are hoping that less frigid temperatures will bring more people out to shopping malls - like Oakbrook Center.

"Much better shopping for the outdoor malls," said Charles Jones, a shopper.

For a second year, the west suburban shopping mall is playing host the Chriskindle Market and other holiday-themed activities and entertainment meant to entice people to shop.

"We're looking at a good 7,000 a day, but it fluctuates. It's such a family experience," said Suzanna Beres, Oakbrook Center.

But not everyone is sorry to see our spring like temperatures.

The manager of this Christmas tree lot in Des Plaines says new tree varieties and the warmer weather have Christmas tree buyers in the mood to snap up one of the 160 trees more sale.

"I believe the sales are up due to the weather, I'm up about 20-25 percent more than what I did last year here in this lot," said Richard Kloster, a Christmas tree lot manager.

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