Retailers Fret Over Hurricane Earl

U.S. retailers in Hurricane Earl’s projected path were already feeling the effects of the storm before the first drop of rain or gust of wind.

At Powell’s Point, N.C.-based Sound Feet Shoes, two locations were forced to close this week as a result of evacuations.

“We were up pretty good this year,” owner Benny Hopkins said. “So missing out on sales this weekend is going to knock a big dent in that, especially since it’s the last big weekend of back-to-school.” 

Hopkins said he is expecting to lose $70,000 to $80,000 in sales as a result of being closed. He added that he hopes to reopen as early as Saturday, if the storm clears out.

Dolores White, owner of John’s Shoe Store in Falmouth, Mass., is also worried about the hit her store might take. “This weekend was our best opportunity to unload some excess inventory,” White said. “But there’s not much we can do about it.” 

The retailer added that she noticed the first drop-off in sales on Wednesday, when recreational parks in the area were closed and travelers began to leave town. To prepare for the storm, White plans to tape up her windows and move inventory to a place that is secure from flooding. 

In Morehead City, N.C., Tassels owner Iva Hocutt Fearing hired a contractor to board up the store windows. As far as business is concerned, she predicts a noticeable impact.
“Labor Day weekend sales will definitely be off,” Fearing said. “Our customers are usually second homeowners checking into their summerhouses, so there’ll be no way to make up those sales.”

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