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When levees break: How retailers are preparing for a riskier natural world

Retail Dive

By: Ben Unglesbee

The march of fearsome weather events has caught the attention of retailers, who collectively have some 26,000 stores at risk to climate-based calamities.

Retail executives are notorious for blaming their companies’ problems on the weather. But a cold spring that keeps people from buying new shorts and skirts at the mall is quite a different thing from an extreme weather event that disrupts a store, supply chain or entire business. . .

. . . Hurricane Irma alone, which ravaged the Caribbean before slamming into Florida, had an estimated $2.8 billion impact on retail, while Harvey brought a $1 billion hit to retailers, according to weather intelligence firm Planalytics. Last year’s Hurricane Florence, as yet another example, was estimated to have cost retailers around $700 million.

With climate change predicted to increase risks from natural disasters like floods, hurricanes and wildfires, retailers likely face more operational disruption in the future. Media coverage and tumultuous seasons have increased the interest among retailers in planning for disasters, say those who work in business resilience and risk management. After years of shrugging off disaster planning, many are now starting to take a closer look at managing stores through events and protecting their supply chains from existential threats from the climate. . . .

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