Retailers Struggle With Impact of Hurricane Ike

New York City Retailers in the Houston area scrambled on Sunday to stock shelves and open stores forced to close, as they tried to meet high demand for emergency supplies in the wake of Hurricane Ike, according to a Reuters report.

Ike, which slammed into the Texas coast as a Category 2 hurricane on Saturday, flooded hundreds of miles of U.S. coastline and cut power to millions of people.

While the actual storm itself was not as bad as the worst fears had predicted, analysts said the economic damage could still be quite significant, aiding retailers that sell necessities and hurting those that are more discretionary, the report said.

At a Home Depot in south Houston, several hundred people waited in the rain for the doors to open, so they could look for everything from roof shingles and chainsaws to batteries and generators. The retailer also set up about 300 trucks near affected areas, in order to refresh empty shelves.

In addition, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. saw increased demand for ice, bottled water, flashlights, batteries, tarps, ropes, duct tape, canned foods, gloves and other cleaning supplies.

Damage assessments have barely begun, but early estimates suggest the bill could rise to $18 billion.

Wal-Mart managed to reopen 15 stores in affected areas, but still has 137 stores closed in Texas, Louisiana, Missouri and Arkansas.

Target Corp. closed 40 stores due to evacuations, but as of Sunday morning, all but 12 were reopened. The company planned to open four more that day.