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Hurricane Florence takes a heavy toll on retailers

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NEW YORK — Retailers and food services providers were expected to sustain at least $700 million in lost sales from Hurricane Florence, according to Planalytics Inc., a firm that helps companies assess and proactively address weather-related impacts.

In the days before Florence hit land near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., on September 14, retailers in the storm-affected areas likely experienced a 20% increase in sales of canned goods, a 12% bump in sales of baked goods and an 8% increase in pet food sales, Planalytics said.

But in the storm’s aftermath, many retailers were negatively affected by purchases that consumers would normally make but did not. And since Florence arrived on a Friday, retailers in the region were hurt by the loss of sales over the weekend.

Additionally, consumers who sustain significant losses from the storm can be expected to tighten their belts during the year-end holiday period, Planalytics said.

For their part, several retailers announced donations to organizations providing relief to those affected by Florence.

Walmart said it shipped more than 730 truckloads of water and more than 660 truckloads of emergency-type merchandise as of September 15. Among the shipments were 2.7 million cases of water, 900,000 packs of batteries, 1.9 million boxes or bags of cereal, 2.5 million cans of meat, 4.6 million cans of vegetables and 300,000 boxes of Pop Tarts.

Due to the generosity of Wal­mart and Sam’s Club customers, the Walmart 2018 Hurricane Relief Fund at Foundation For The Carolinas raised more than $2.5 million, triggering a $5 million match from Walmart, the company said on its website.

Walgreens Boots Alliance announced it was supporting relief efforts through a number of measures, including an initial $200,000 donation to the American Red Cross.

Meijer Inc. said it donated $50,000 to the American Red Cross of West Michigan to support its relief efforts. The retailer also sent three trucks loaded with bottled water to areas affected by Florence.

Regional supermarkets Southeastern Grocers and Publix Super Markets Inc. established programs permitting customers to contribute money to be distributed to the Red Cross in support of the organization’s Hurricane Florence relief efforts.


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