Page last updated at 04:56 GMT, Sunday, 20 December 2009

Eyewitness: Eastern US snowstorm

With heavy snow disrupting the eastern US, American media have been reporting its impact on everyday life in the week before Christmas.

I'm going to do snowmen and sledding... and see the monuments in the snow
Josh Jackson
Washington DC

"As the storm was on its way to being one of the biggest December snowfalls on record, the city in particular took on an almost magical quality," the Washington Post reports.

"Streets were unusually quiet, the silence interrupted by the muffled growl of snow blowers and shovels."

Josh Jackson, a Texas university student currently in the capital, told the paper he was looking forward to winter sports as he ate a plate of steaming hot food in an Arlington eatery

"I'm going to do snowmen and sledding," he said, grinning, "and crazy as it sounds, since the trains are running, I'm going to go downtown to the Mall and see the monuments in the snow."

At shops in Arlington, retailers struggled to do business.

A half-dozen employees in the Apple store greeted a reporter - the first person to walk through the doors since opening - with applause, the Post adds.

'Going to hurt'

The storm could not have come at a worse time for Baltimore retailers already dealing with shoppers who are pinching pennies because of the weak economy, the Baltimore Sun says.

"First we had the great recession, now I think that we have the great blizzard here," said Tom Sequella, president of the Maryland Retailers Association.

"And it's going to hurt, no question about it."

Police officer Lynn Wall took her teenage daughters to the city's White Marsh Mall because she "figured the mall wouldn't be crowded so this would be the best day to go".

But the Wall family were the exception as most shoppers chose to stay home on what should have been one of the city's busiest shopping days of the season.

Stores and malls were deserted in the morning, with only the bravest - most with four-wheel-drives - willing to venture out, the Sun says.

The Associated Press news agency found few takers for traditional "visits to Santa Claus" in Virginia.

"Normally we'd have a long line here but people are having a hard time getting out," said Suzanne Rudd, a store-owner outside Richmond.

At New Jersey's Cherry Hill Mall, parking spots were plentiful and inside there was no queue for a picture with Santa.

"It was fantastic," said Chris Bailey, who got pictures of his four-year-old daughter, Olivia.

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