Hurricane Irma Projected to Have Devastating Impact on Retail, Economy
Hurricane Irma, the second strongest storm in the Atlantic on record, which at the time of writing is forecast to be heading towards the coasts of Florida, is expected to cause retailers and other residents major grief.
Business weather intelligence provider Planalytics assessed Irma's potential economic impact, reporting that lost sales could potentially have an impact of $1.45 billion.
A category 5 storm, Irma is expected to be even stronger than Harvey, the hurricane that made landfall in Texas in late August. While Harvey's impact was primarily driven by flooding, Irma's damages will also be driven by the high winds and storm surge. In addition, the population under threat by Irma in Florida is three times greater than the total number of those impacted by Harvey, threatening major population centers such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Tampa.
Local businesses have already begun readying for the storm, with residents making preparatory purchases such as food, generators and home supplies. Home centers, grocery stores, warehouses and gas stations are currently experiencing a surge of traffic, forcing inventory managers and supply chain professionals to work tirelessly to both meet demands and ensure product availability.The projected path of Hurricane Harvey | Source: National Hurricane Center
Major retailers and restaurant chains whose customer base will be greatly affected by Irma include: Stage Stores (26 percent), West Marine (18 percent), Bloomin’ Brands (15 percent), Stein Mart (13 percent) and BJ’s (13 percent). The government of Florida has declared a state of emergency, with some areas, such as the Florida Keys and the Miami-Dade area currently evacuating.