An Autumn of Heavy Hurricanes Led to Earnings Losses at Major Department Stores

Hurricane Harvey damage
Damage from Hurricane Harvey.
Rex Shutterstock

Back-to-back natural disasters across the country this autumn caused problems for numerous department stores.

As retailers announced their earnings on Thursday, many pointed out that heavy hurricanes that hit the East Coast of the U.S. in August and September affected their financials for the most recent quarter.

Hurricane Harvey, in particular, caused heavy flooding and dozens of deaths across the Houston area, along with billions of dollars in infrastructure damage. In September, Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Irma also raged through the Caribbean before hitting Florida and several other Southern states.

Kohl’s, which has pledged $1 million to the victims of Hurricane Irma, said that it ran up more than $8 million in unexpected expenses after having to close more than 100 of its stores, some of them for over a week. Kohl’s CFO Bruce Besanko told investors the company made a “deliberate decision to absorb some of the financial impact as with several additional steps to support our associates, our customers and our communities in the aftermath of the storms.”

Kohl's A Kohl’s store. AP Images.

Macy’s, which surprised analysts with slightly better-than-expected earnings of $36 million after a period of steady decline, said that it still lost approximately $20 million in sales due to the store closures during Harvey and Irma.

“Geographically, our sales were relatively similar across the country other than the hurricane-impacted areas,” Macy’s CFO Karen M. Houget told investors.

Last month, Neiman Marcus said that it expects lower sales due to the hurricanes but has not released the latest earnings call yet. Footwear giant Skechers had to close 55 of its stores across Texas and Florida along with 9 of its stores in Puerto Rico, which remain closed due to the territory’s struggle to recover from the hurricane.

“The increase in our company-owned retail stores came despite temporary store closures in Texas and Florida as well as continued store closures in Puerto Rico due to the recent hurricanes,” said Skechers CFO David Weinberg to investors.