New York — Hurricane Sandy is likely to put a crimp in holiday sales, analysts said, although the extent of its impact, like the damage it will wreak, is still uncertain at this time.
Writing in a CNBC guest blog, Planalytics senior VP Evan Gold expects “some pressure” as consumer spending, both pre- and post-storm, “will likely cause many consumers to revisit their holiday shopping budgets.”
But given the breadth of the storm system — affecting one-third of the U.S. population and such major markets as New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C and Baltimore — he suspects that Sandy “is poised to leave a significant mark that will be referenced for years to come.”
Paul Walsh, weather analysis VP for The Weather Channel, noted on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” show that retail traffic was “phenomenal” during the ramp-up to the storm, and may have had a halo effect on non-storm-related items. The scramble for emergency essentials like water, batteries, flashlights and bread will likely boost October sales results for full-line retailers, he said, although massive, widespread power outages will likely have a major impact on November sales across the board.
Walmart said about 800 of its stores along the Eastern seaboard are in the projected path of the storm. The discounter has already closed about 20 locations and will keep the remainder open “as long as it is safe to do so.”
Sears Holdings reported on Friday that inventories of emergency supplies like portable generators, gasoline cans, chainsaws and flashlights were being rushed to Sears stores from North Carolina to Maine in anticipation of the hurricane.
Other retailers, including h.h.gregg, Systemax and Office Depot, have delayed planned earnings releases until later this week or next.