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IRMA AND HARVEY: HOW RETAILERS GET INVOLVED WHEN SEVERE WEATHER HITS

National Retail Federation

By: NRF Research

Irma, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded, hit Florida over the weekend, just as parts of Texas begin to dig out from Hurricane Harvey.

There’s no doubt that retailers have been on top of these destructive weather conditions. Like any business, retailers must prepare their establishments and employees for impact. Unlike other businesses, however, retailers play a leading role in both preparations for extreme weather and help in the recovery.

In the wake of Harvey, stories have been coming in from retailers across the country jumping in to send supplies and financial support for recovery efforts. Amazon, Walmart, QVC and Chobani are just a few of those donating products and funds to affected areas. Retailers like Target and Starbucks are also providing financial support for employees impacted by Harvey.

With many consumers on a heightened weather alert last week after Harvey, those in Irma’s path were proactively making pre-storm purchases and stocking up on necessities. Retailers were also there to help residents get ahead of the storm by sending extra supplies to the threatened areas and communicating with customers. In addition to stocking stores with emergency items, CVS Pharmacy set up automated calls and mobile alerts to remind patients living in affected areas to refill their prescriptions before the storm hit. The Home Depot launched its Rapid Response Team to restock shelves across the state, while Walmart mobilized to send 800 trucks of water to impacted areas.

As of Friday afternoon, our friends at Planalytics were estimating that Irma’s potential economic impact for lost sales in the consumer/retail sector could reach $2.75B, with a large share of lost sales coming from the food and restaurant sector.

While the full effect of these storms to the Texas and Florida economies remain to be seen, retail’s impact on the lives of those in the path of these hurricanes is critically important and ongoing.

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