Hurricane Dorian’s $1.5B Impact on U.S. Retail + How Footwear Players Are Aiding Victims

Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc on the Bahamas last week but left the southeastern United States mostly undamaged.

Still, the hurricane had a negative impact on the American economy, according to weather data analytics firm Planalytics. The firm estimates a $1.5 billion decline in consumer spending due to the hurricane, even including weather-related expenditures like grocery store stock-ups and plywood to board up homes.

Dorian came at a time when retailers often see a revenue boost, thanks to back-to-school, post-Labor Day sales. Planalytics noted that in such severe weather people are more likely to put their dollars toward purchases in the grocery and hardware categories, predicting, as a result, a 25% reduction in foot traffic at apparel stores and a 32% decrease at outlets.

As relief efforts in the Bahamas and parts of the southeastern United States continue, the footwear industry is pitching in to help.

Jamie Ellis, Soles4Soles director of marketing and communications, told FN the organization has already been contacted by about a dozen partners who want to donate new shoes and clothes to victims of Dorian.

“We are giving first responders the ability to go in and assess the immediate needs, like food and water. As soon as the first responders are ready, we’ll be on the spot with clothes and shoes that give survivors the basics to start moving forward again,” Ellis said.

Soles4Souls is accepting donations of excess inventory in new shoes and clothing by contacting Pattie Graben at pattieg@soles4souls.org.

Meanwhile, The Two Ten Footwear Foundation’s social services team says it is ready to respond immediately to industry employees affected by the hurricane, offering emergency financial assistance, counseling and referral services. Employees can easily apply for assistance at TwoTen.org, or they can contact the organization by calling 800-346-3210 or emailing socialservices@twoten.org.

“Every dollar makes a difference, and we are very thankful for the help,” said Terri Rawson, Two Ten’s chief marketing and development officer.

From Sept. 10 through Sept. 30, Columbia Sportswear Company will match donations of up to $50,000 in its U.S. stores and outlets. All funds will go to the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Additionally, from Sept. 6 to Sept. 10, Columbia is partnering with Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS)— purveyor of outerwear and gear— to aid the Hurricane Relief Fund. EMS is donating 5% of the purchase price of every Columbia product sold, which Columbia is matching. A 10% donation also applies to sales of EMS products and to products of other EMS partner brands, including Karrimor, Prana, Oboz, Marmot, Keen, Osprey and MPOWERD, purchased in EMS stores or online at ems.com.

“The devastation that this storm brought to the Bahamas is catastrophic,“ Tim Boyle, Columbia’s president and CEO, stated in a release. “We’d like to do whatever we can to aid in recovery efforts for the Bahamas and the coastal United States.”

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