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Hurricanes and availability

Hurricane Ian Impact on Availability

Hurricane Ian Impact on Availability

In late September 2022, Hurricane Ian powered through Florida’s gulf coast then continued its way to make a second landfall in South Carolina. 


Before we continue this blog post, we must express our genuine heartbreak and send condolences to all of those impacted by the destruction of this hurricane.  


The storm was just shy of the most-forceful category-5 level and is set to be one of the top-10 costliest storms in the US, resulting in about $70 billion to $120 billion in economic damage.  


Prior to the storm, Florida residents took to the grocery store to stock up on water, bread, pet food, canned goods, and batteries. Grocery stores and convenience stores see their revenues increase 5% to 10% about 3 days before a hurricane hits, according to Planalytics. A day before a major storm, sales can increase 30% to 50% compared to normal.  


We pulled out of stock data for Lee County Florida zip codes between September 15 and October 6 and learned that many categories were unavailable in preparation and recovery of the storm. 


Our data indicates that ice, beer, dry goods, and milk were low in stock. Kitchen supplies (like paper plates and bowls) were also largely unavailable. On the other hand, personal care items (like cosmetics and hair products) were in stock; some personal care items were on promotion too. 


We also looked at promotion data to learn that some promotions remained regardless of the weather. For example, red wine and frozen pizza were both in stock and on promotion.  Our data showed some hard seltzers were on promotion, but not in stock and some cleaning tools were on promotion and in stock. 

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Retailers Help the Community 

Before a storm, there’s always a surge in spending.


“Everyone’s stocking up, whether that’s bread, water, or plywood,” explains Justin Greider, head of Florida retail for the commercial real estate firm JLL. “But once a storm comes, for every day stores have to be closed, there’s a significant financial impact to them.” Nonetheless, popular retailers in the region have stepped up to help the community. 


The day after the hurricane made landfall in Florida, Walmart pledged to donate $6 million to recovery and relief efforts. The retail giant plans to match donations given at its registers and by its employees, up to $2.5 million. 


“Many of our associates, customers and members in the communities we serve across Florida are feeling the devastating effects of Hurricane Ian,” Walmart said on its website. “Our thoughts are with those impacted and we are moving quickly to help.” 


Publix Super Markets said its charitable arm would donate $1 million to non-profit organizations as part of the cleanup and rebuilding work. Publix will also activate a company-wide donation campaign to allow customers and workers to donate to the relief efforts at checkout lanes. 


“I’m proud of our more than 230,000 associates who are working hard to take care of our customers, our communities and each other every day and especially in times of need,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. 


Hy-Vee sent two caravans of its disaster relief fleet to Florida. Groups of Hy-Vee employees in several response vehicles will bring Hy-Vee’s mobile command center, water system and rapid response pickup truck to the area, the company said. Those groups will be followed by a second group that includes nine semi-trucks filled with water, ice, snacks, cleaning supplies and protein donated by Hormel Foods, the retailer said


The storm is said to be the second-largest catastrophe on record (after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina). On average, it will take 9 weeks for businesses to recover to pre-Ian run rates (based on historical experience). Production and shipping could be hindered by damage to buildings, equipment, or inventory. 


The economic fallout caused by the storm will be immense, AccuWeather founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers said — the total losses caused by Hurricane Ian will amount to between $180 billion and $210 billion in the US. 

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