Credit Suisse says Hurricane Irma had neutral impact on food sales

by Eric Schroeder
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Credit Suisse found that "panicky buying" before and after the storm offset the negative impact of temporary store closings and out-of-stock products.
 
NEW YORK — While Hurricane Irma caused widespread devastation throughout much of Florida last week and volatile weather continues to threaten the state, the events have had only a “neutral” impact on grocery and food sales in the region, according to a Sept. 19 report from Credit Suisse.

In an informal survey of 40 Wal-Mart and Publix stores in Florida, Credit Suisse found that “panicky buying” before and after the storm offset the negative impact of temporary store closings and out-of-stock products.

Robert
Robert Moskow, research analyst with Credit Suisse

“Grocery stores and shoppers are in the midst of rebuilding and trying to return to normalcy,” Robert Moskow, research analyst with Credit Suisse, wrote in the Sept. 19 report.

According to the survey, 75 percent of stores reported higher traffic both before and after the storm due to “panicky buying.” Now, store traffic has begun to return to normal for about 40 percent of the stores surveyed, Moskow said.

As is typical with major storms, power loss was noted in a number of locations, but Moskow said it was restored quickly, and the majority of stores surveyed indicated they were down for about two to three days. Four stores surveyed said they were closed for three-and-a-half to four days, he said.

Publix
Store traffic has begun to return to normal for about 40 percent of the stores surveyed. 
 
“Refrigerated and frozen products were particularly vulnerable due to power loss throughout the state — several stores reported that they were forced to throw out all refrigerated and frozen goods,” Moskow said. “We see this as a potential catalyst for a short-term spike in sales as stores restock inventory.”

Even though daily shipments resumed quickly following the storms, Moskow said the grocery stores surveyed in some cases reported slow store traffic due to limited inventory. Categories that were especially limited included dairy products, bread, water and convenience products, he said. 

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