So far Hurricane Sandy has unfortunately proved itself worthy of many of the "worst" descriptors it was assigned prior to its arrival along the East Coast of the United States. Certainly the 48 people who lost their lives, the 8 million people who lost their power, and the hundreds of thousands of homeowners who lost pieces of their home and their peace of mind represent the worst of the worse possible outcomes created by Hurricane Sandy.
But just behind that, the negative impact that Hurricane Sandy will have on U.S. business overall, the U.S. retail industry in general, and retail chains like Wal-Mart (WMT), Starbucks (SBUX), Sears, (SHLD), Macy's (M) and Saks (SKS) in particular is the next worse damage that the Frankenstorm is leaving in its monstrous wake of damage and destruction.
It's still too early to know for sure what the overall impact of Hurricane Sandy will be on the U.S. retail industry, but there's not much that retail industry leaders, analysts, and investors love more than estimates, speculations, and numbers. Consequently retail numbers have been flying around media outlets like so much hurricane debris, landing in a jumbled heap of regurgitated fact, fiction, and sensationalism waiting for an analytical cleanup crew to sort it all out.
So below is a list of (mostly) credible numbers related to Hurricane Sandy, and the present and future impact the storm will have on some of the largest U.S. retail chains. These retail numbers are arranged from highest to lowest and (hopefully) are representative of the best information available to date.
88 billion - the highest speculated dollar estimate of total damage caused by Hurricane Sandy
25 billion - the amount of retail sales (excluding restaurants) that could be lost in the week before, during, and after Hurricane Sandy hit, according to the estimates of retail consultant group Strategic Resource Group
1,000 - The estimated number of Starbucks stores along the East Coast that were closed early on October 28th along the East Coast
900 - The number of Wal-Mart (WMT) and Sam's Club stores that were originally identified as being in danger from Hurricane Sandy
750 - The number of truckloads of generators, cleaning supplies, and tools that were shipped to Home Depot (HD) stores in the Northeast prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy
350 - The number of Home Depot employees who were working in the Atlanta home office command center to prepare Home Depot stores and associates before Hurricane Sandy struck
300 - The number of Ace Hardware stores located in Hurricane Sandy storm-affected areas
267 - The actual number of Wal-Mart stores that were closed on October 29th due to Hurricane Sandy
260 - The number of Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze, Capital Grille and other Darden (DRI) branded restaurant locations that were closed by due to Hurricane Sandy
200 - The number of stores Lowe's (LOW) had identified as being potentially threatened by Hurricane Sandy.
187 - The number of Sears (SHLD) and Kmart stores that were in the path of Hurricane Sandy and closed on Monday
179 - The number of Best Buy (BBY) stores that were closed along the East Coast due to Hurricane Sandy
168 - The number of Wal-Mart stores that were actually closed for business due to Hurricane Sandy
160 - The number of Limited, Victoria's Secret, and Bath & Body Works stores that were closed on October 29th, out of a total of 2,883 Limited Brands (LTD) stores
150 - The basis point loss that Macy's and Saks reported in its August 2011 sales due to Hurricane Irene
130 - The number of Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores that were closed on Monday due to Hurricane Sandy
100 - The number of Dunkin Donuts (DNKN) stores that were closed on October 29th due to Hurricane Sandy
100 - The number of truckloads of generators, chainsaws, vacuums, flashlights, batters, and sump pumps that Sears moved to its stores on the East coast prior to the arrival of Hurrcane Sandy
73 - The number of Lowe's stores that were closed temporarily because of Hurricane Sandy
65 - The number of Macy's stores that were re-opened the day after Hurricane Sandy hit, but with shorter hours
64 - The actual number of American Eagle (AEO) stores that were closed on October 29th, out of a total of 1,063 American Eagle locations
50 - The number of jcpenney (JCP) stores in eight states that were temporarily closed for Hurricane Sandy
44 - The actual number of stores that Home Depot closed temporarily while Hurricane Sandy was at its peak
42 - The number of Sears distribution centers that shipped hurricane-related merchandise to Sears stores along the Eastern Seaboard prior to Hurricane Sandy's arrival
41 - The number of Target (TGT) stores that were operating on generator power when they reopened after Hurricane Sandy hit
40 - The estimated percentage of online retail sales traffic that will be lost in the first week following Hurricane Sandy
35 - The number of Apple retail stores that were originally identified as being in the path of Hurricane Sandy
30 - The percentage of Macy's stores that are estimated to have lost sales due to Hurricane Sandy, the highest for any of the largest U.S. retail chains, according to Bloomberg Industries
27 - The percentage of Saks stores that are predicted to have diminished sales because of Hurricane Sandy, the second highest percentage of affected stores for any major U.S. retail chain, according to Bloomberg Industries
25 - The percentage of Macy's stores that were actually closed all of pat of October 29th when Hurricane Sandy made landfall, according to a Macy's spokesperson
20 - The number of truckloads of generators Ace Hardware shipped to its stores in the Northeast before Hurricane Sandy hit
10 - The estimated percentage of total U.S. chain stores that were in the projected path of Hurricane Sandy, according the business weather intelligence people at Planalytics
7 - The number of retail chains that were criticized in social media for trying to capitalize on Hurricane Sandy by sending out opportunistic marketing messages while the storm was actively striking (American Apparel, Urban Outfitters (URBN), Costco (COST), Old Navy (GPS), JCrew, Anthropologie, Barneys)
5 - The number of days prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy when Target stores along the Eastern Seaboard were fully stocked with hurricane-related merchandise
2 - The number of Sears store buildings that suffered significant damage from Hurricane Sandy
1.1% - The predicted loss in total Christmas holiday shopping season sales due to Hurricane Sandy, acording to Strategic Resource Group
1 point - The predicted loss to Christmas holiday sales for retailers of discretionary items like toys, jewelry, sporting goods, and apparel, according to Planalytics
0.2 - The estimated percentage points that will be subtracted from the U.S. gross domestic product in the fourth quarter, according to Wells Fargo Securities
Very little - The amount of damage done to Home Depot retail store locations, according to a company spokesperson
Too many - The number of retailers that will use Hurricane Sandy as an excuse for diminished performance in the last quarter of the 2012 calendar year rather than take responsibility for their own retail execution that actually created the results
Too few - The number of chain stores and restaurants that have offered any type of assistance to storm-ravaged consumers that they don't have to pay for
The sum total of all these retail numbers will be incalculable for a while, much to the dismay of those whose livelihood and happiness depends on retail numbers. But as far as we know so far, no retail employees perished in service to their employer, no retail structure was completely demolished by hurricane winds, and no entire retail districts were consumed by fire. So that puts East Coast retail chains far ahead of a countless number of Hurricane Sandy Victims. Which leads to the final Hurricane Sandy retail-related number...
100 - The percentage of U.S. retail leaders who have a lot to be grateful for this pre-Black Friday (the holiday formerly known as Thanksgiving)