Hurricane Dorian Swamps Consumer Spending

In addition to the storm damage, experts estimate Dorian will cost retailers $1.5 billion.

September 06, 2019

BERWYN, Penn.—Hurricane Dorian, which is continuing to make its way up the Eastern Seaboard, will cost southeast retailers an estimated $1.5 billion, according to Planalytics, CNBC reports. The storm’s timing put a damper on typical Labor Day and back-to-school spending at stores in its path.

Those dollars instead will be snapped up by home improvement stores and supermarkets, as consumers purchase supplies for riding out the storm or making repairs caused by its devastation. Retailers like Walmart and Target will likely see a boost in sales, too, as consumers take advantage of their quick delivery offerings.

“Home centers are going to be on the front end of that surge of sales and groceries as well. But when you start talking about department stores, specialty apparel, and basically non-need items, that business goes away,” said Paul Walsh, director of consumer weather strategy at IBM. “That business moves to the other channels, so there’s a big disparity in terms of who gets the business.”

The good news for consumers is that retailers are becoming better prepared for such storms, by moving quickly to stock necessities and by having alternative sources for supplies. “Retailers are increasingly using data and weather data to understand what the forecast means as it relates to consumer behavior, and they can better execute against that,” Walsh said.

NACS developed its “Stay Open in an Emergency" video and other resources to help convenience retailers develop and execute disaster planning procedures. The NACS Convenience Store Emergency Planning and Job Aid resources assist c-stores as they plan, prepare and recover from a disaster.