(Bloomberg News) Home-improvement stores selling emergency supplies and coffee shops providing a break from the cleanup may benefit from Hurricane Irene, while department stores shut down because of flooding likely lost sales.
The storm may have reduced apparel retailers' comparable- store sales by 0.5 percent or less for the month as consumers stayed home during the critical back-to-school shopping season, Jennifer Davis, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, said today in an e-mail. Grocery stores, drug stores and big-box retailers likely benefited, she said.
Lowe's Cos. shipped more than 1,000 extra truckloads of flashlights, batteries and generators to East Coast stores, said Katie Cody, company spokeswoman. The Mooresville, North Carolina-based company activated its natural-disaster price suspension plan and didn't raise the cost of emergency goods in affected areas, Cody said.
"It was absolutely a crazy time," Cody said in a telephone interview. Six Lowe's stores were closed in New Jersey, New York and North Carolina during the weekend, and the Hackettstown, New Jersey, location remains shut today, she said.
Irene killed at least 18 people and caused an estimated $3 billion in damage as it swept from the Caribbean to New England. The storm cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses across the U.S. East Coast. New York's subways were shut during the weekend while flooding and debris affected commuter rail routes into the city.
Home Depot Inc. shipped more than 1,000 truckloads of extra supplies, said Stephen Holmes, a spokesman. The Atlanta-based company is seeing a rush in demand for chainsaws, cleaning supplies and vacuums as people try to repair damage from the storm, he said today in a telephone interview.
"We've begun moving into recovery and clean-up products," Holmes said in a telephone interview.
More than 30 stores along the East Coast were closed yesterday, Holmes said. As of this morning, all but five had opened. Many employees are being shuttled to harder-hit areas to assist with the extra business, Holmes said.
The Starbucks Corp. cafe in Groton, Connecticut, has lines running out of its doors today and is getting about twice as many customers as usual after being without power from the night of Aug. 27 through midday yesterday, said Jeremiah Vigue, 27, the shop's manager.
"They're getting stir-crazy and are just wanting to get something hot," Vigue said today in a telephone interview.
Some Starbucks cafes are closed along the East Coast, Alan Hilowitz, a company spokesman, said in a telephone interview, adding that he was unable to provide an exact number.
"We are trying to get open as quickly as we can, knowing that people do use Starbucks as a gathering place and for Wi- Fi," Hilowitz said.
Tiffany & Co.'s flagship store on New York's Fifth Avenue was closed the past two days because the subway shutdown made travel difficult for employees, said Mark Aaron, a spokesman. All of the New York-based jeweler's New York and Northeast stores were closed yesterday and are reopening today, he said.
The closings will affect the New York-based company's sales, he said, adding that he couldn't estimate the amount today. Other purchases, such as engagement rings, will simply be delayed, he said.
Saks Inc. closed seven stores in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Virginia, in the wake of Irene, said Julia Bentley, a spokeswoman. The company will reopen its New York headquarters office at 10 a.m. today and is running its store in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on backup generators, she said today in an e-mail.
The company is in the process of determining the impact on sales and won't discuss that until Sept. 1, she said. The company didn't sustain any material property damage, she said.
Macy's Inc., the owner of its namesake and Bloomingdale's chains, said yesterday that three stores around Wayne, New Jersey, would remain closed today because of flooding.
"Any store selling non-necessities such as clothing was hurt this weekend," Ellen Davis, vice president of the Washington-based National Retail Federation, said today in an interview. "With bad weather, people aren't going to be coming out and buying back-to-school stuff."