Retailers Pitch In To Help Hurricane Sandy Victims

Hurricane Sandy
wrought devastation upon families and businesses along the East Coast. While many stores were forced to close, other merchants dealt with lost replenishment or damaged goods due to Hurricane Sandy. But these logistical obstacles should not have a large impact on November sales or holiday projections, according to Jackie Fernandez, Retail Partner for Deloitte Consulting, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.

“A lot of retailers are seeing good numbers for October, but timing is everything for these results because people were buying a lot of products in advance of Hurricane sandy,” Fernandez explained. “Coming into November, I anticipate we won’t see much of an impact, except for smaller retailers that I’m sure are dealing with a lot of turmoil. But for large, national chains, only a few stores closed. These larger retailers are working to clean up, reopen and replenish, so they’ll be prepared just in time for the start of the holiday season.”

Regarding recovery efforts and how the hurricane may impact sentiment this holiday season, Fernandez noted: “Overall, I think we’ll only see a small blip in retail profit during this replenishment phase,” she said. “Our research shows that consumers are feeling more upbeat about the holiday season, even though we’re still pretty fragile economically. Due to the timing of Sandy, many consumers and retailers will be able to regroup before Thanksgiving.”


Leading Retailers Offer Aid To Hurricane Sandy Victims

A variety of brands and retailers, including Coca-Cola, Lowe’s, Rite Aid, Target, Toys ‘R’ Us and Walgreens, offered financial support to families impacted by the “Superstorm.”

“While there currently are a lot of programs up and running, I’m sure there will be more to come, with retailers developing different relief activities to get consumers involved,” Fernandez said. “In my opinion, the retailers that participate in these efforts will have an edge over competitors that do not, mainly because shoppers will feel their money will help someone in need and support a good cause.”

The philanthropic branch of The Coca-Cola Company pledged $1 million to local community relief efforts on November 1. Funds donated will help provide necessary resources for food and shelter to aid in short-term recovery, as well as long-term rebuilding initiatives on the East Coast. The Coca-Cola Foundation also is working to make Coca-Cola products such as bottled water available to communities.

“Coca-Cola always stands ready to help when people are in need. Our hearts go out to those affected by this destructive storm,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “Our system has mobilized to help however we can. We’re working with local authorities and relief agencies, donating our beverages and funds to help rebuild impacted communities.”

Lowe’s also donated $1 million to communities struggling as a result of Hurricane Sandy via its “Racing For Relief” initiative, collaborating with national nonprofit partners to aid in disaster relief and rebuilding efforts. In addition, Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers are helping victims of Hurricane Sandy by delivering relief supplies and support to local communities.

“Our thoughts are with all the families who have been impacted by this historic storm, and we’re focused on working closely with our partners in the days and months ahead to deliver funding, supplies and volunteer support to the hardest-hit areas,” said Robert A. Niblock, Chairman, President and CEO of Lowe’s. “We’re proud to stand by the Red Cross as they continue to respond to the needs of local communities.”

Consumers also can donate to the Red Cross at their local Lowe’s stores. Funds received will help provide food, shelter and other vital assistance to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Donations also can be made at Lowe’s American Red Cross Online Donation Site, or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Through its own charity, The Rite Aid Foundation, Rite Aid contributed $100,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. In addition, the retailer is working with the Red Cross to provide specific emergency supplies needed in specific areas.

Most Rite Aid stores in affected areas now are open, serving prescription and other needs for local residents. Rite Aid also is working with local authorities to reopen any of its locations closed due to power outages and storm damage.

Target donated $500,000 in monetary support and products to assist with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. The donation will include $425,000 in cash and in-kind donations to the American Red Cross, $50,000 in cash donation to the Salvation Army and $25,000 in gift cards to local Target stores to help with community needs.

“When disaster strikes, Target listens and acts quickly to donate time, money and essentials to help support the needs of our communities,” said Gregg Steinhafel, Chairman, President and CEO of Target, in a press release. “Our thoughts are with the all of the residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy and we hope our donation will aid in the East Coast’s recovery.”

Target has reopened the majority of its stores in New York and New Jersey areas, and is in the process of assessing the impact on facilities, a press release revealed. Once transportation restrictions are lifted, the retailer will work with distribution centers and vendors to replenish stores quickly with clean-up and recovery essentials.

The Toys ‘R’ Us Children’s Fund gave $500,000 to Save the Children, a global humanitarian organization, to support its initial work and assessment of needs for children and families in evacuation shelters. These funds will also help the organization distribute hygiene kits, diapers, baby wipes, and other daily necessities.

Toys ‘R’ Us customers and employees also are encouraged to donate to the “Hurricane Sandy Children in Emergency Fund” online. In addition, company employees impacted by Hurricane Sandy are being supported through the Geoffrey Fund, a Toys ‘R’ Us program which offers financial assistance to employees in need.

While some Toys ‘R’ Us locations remain closed on the East Coast due to power outages, stores that are operating have extended open hours to ensure customers have access to necessities for infants and children.

Walgreens is focusing on reopening locations and distribution centers following Hurricane Sandy. As of November 1, more than two-thirds of the 750 locations that closed due to the storm have reopened. Major Walgreens distribution centers, including facilities in Windsor, Conn., Bethlehem, Penn., and Maspeth, N.Y., have restored power and are operating.

In addition, Walgreens contributed $250,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. The company donated three semitrailer truckloads of bottled water to a Red Cross facility in New Brunswick, N.J., to distribute to citizens. Walgreens stores also are providing merchandise in response to community requests and needs.

Other organizations, including Gap, Inc., Hasbro, Inc., HondaKohl’s, Macy’s, Publix, The Office Depot, and The Walt Disney Company are donating funds and necessities to contribute to relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy.

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