Retailers Regroup After Ida; Opening Delays Widespread

Ida swept through the Northeast on Wednesday and Thursday morning, leaving death, destruction and massive flooding in its wake and disrupting transportation and businesses on a widespread level.

At least 40 people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland were killed by flooding into their homes or cars, according to a Thursday afternoon report by CNN. Highways were littered with abandoned cars or cars crawling through flooded roads.

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However, major retailers with stores in the region that were contacted Thursday were relieved to have escaped major destruction from the hurricane. There were widespread delays in store openings, with many representatives indicating they would be able to reopen stores at some point during the day. Workers were unable to get to work on time due to transportation delays and cleanups.

Thursday was not a particularly crucial day for business. Retailers could be considered fortunate that the hurricane did not occur over the Labor Day weekend, which is a huge promotional period, particularly for back-to-school. The weather is expected to be clear for the weekend, and benefit retailers.

The hurricane hit the region with unexpected ferocity, pouring historic record levels of rain on New York City.

“We did have a few store closures and late openings today as a result of the weather,” a Gap spokesperson said. “Several stores across each of our brands (Old Navy, Gap, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic, Banana Republic Factory Store and Athleta) were impacted by yesterday’s inclement weather across several regions. This includes both closures and delayed openings.”

Macy’s department stores in Bridgewater Commons, N.J.; Cross County Mall in Yonkers, N.Y.; Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., and in the Queens Center in Queens, N.Y., all had delayed openings, but all Macy’s stores in the tri-state area were planning to open at one time or another Thursday. A Backstage off-price store in Fordham Place in the Bronx did not open at all for business on Thursday. Backstage is the off-price division operated by Macy’s Inc.

Saks Fifth Avenue indicated that it had no delays in any openings.

The 122 stores that are part of the 34th Street Partnership in Manhattan did not experience any early closings Wednesday or any business interruptions due to the storm, according to the partnership’s vice president of retail services Dan Pisark. “Despite what happened in the New York area with all the flooding and even abandoned cars on the highway, we got through it on 34th Street.” he said.

Walmart was still assessing the effects of the overnight storms and flooding early Thursday afternoon. TJX Cos. reported some stores stayed closed in impacted areas, but gave no specifics.

Amazon closed several of its facilities and delivery stations along the path where Hurricane Ida struck “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a statement from an Amazon spokeswoman. “We will resume operations at these sites only when it’s safe to do so. The safety and well-being of our employees and the drivers who deliver our packages continue to be our top priority, and our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.”

The Amazon spokeswoman declined to specify how many locations had closed and where, nor how many employees were impacted by the closures.

CVS Health temporarily shuttered a few stores in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, due to flooding and water damage. “Our teams are currently assessing damage and stores will reopen as soon as repairs are made,” a spokeswoman said.

Two Target stores in the New York area remained closed Thursday due to flooding caused by the storm, but the company is “working quickly to reopen” those locations, according to a spokesman.

All of Target’s supply chain facilities throughout the Northeast were operating normally. The spokesman also noted, “The safety of our team members and guests remains Target’s top priority…”

Representatives for Uniqlo declined to comment how the remnants of Hurricane Ida impacted its stores.

All Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus stores in the New York metropolitan area opened on time and were not damaged, according to the company. Only the Neiman Marcus in Paramus, N.J., experienced a slight delay, opening at noon instead of its usual 11 a.m.

Karen Murray, owner of Fivestory on New York’s Upper East Side, said the store was unscathed by the effects of the storm and the plan was to open on time Thursday morning. However, the manager of the boutique was unable to make it in on time since her train to the city was canceled, so the opening was ultimately delayed until she could arrive via car service.

Bob Mitchell, co-chief executive officer of Mitchells Stores in Connecticut and Long Island, said, “We were very lucky. There were minor water issues, but no damage.” And the stores were able to open on time.

Ken Giddon, president of Rothmans in Union Square in Manhattan, and Westchester, said both stores were able to open on time and were not impacted by the storm.

LoveShackFancy was also unaffected. All of its New York-area stores were able to open on time and did not sustain any damage.

In a press briefing in Queens, N.Y., on Thursday morning, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called Ida a “devastating storm that shocked the people of this city.” She cited the “record-shattering rainfall,” which included the 3.15 inches that fell in Central Park in one hour during the height of the storm and said other storms of this magnitude will continue to impact the city and U.S. given climate change.

Mayor Bill DiBlasio said nine New Yorkers had died during the storm.

In New Jersey, a tornado swept through Mullica Hill, leveling several homes and damaging scores of others. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency Wednesday night and urged people to stay home and off the roads. Westfield Garden State Plaza in New Jersey opened at noon Thursday, to allow employees extra time to get to work today given that many local roads were closed or flooded. No major damage was sustained at the center.

As a sign of the severity of Wednesday night’s weather and the deluge of rainfall in some areas, Amtrak canceled all service on Thursday between Washington, D.C., and Boston.

In Philadelphia, officials and business owners were still assessing the damage and flooding Thursday afternoon. Neighborhoods were hit with tornadoes, the area saw record flooding, and all of eastern Pennsylvania was still under a flood warning Thursday afternoon.

A spokesman from the office of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kennedy, said, “This is still an active emergency response situation and we do not have an estimate on how much damage has occurred, but it appears to be significant, due to the historic flooding.”

Just as some area businesses kept their doors closed Thursday, all city offices were shuttered Thursday, numerous roads were closed Thursday morning and public transit was operating with delays of up to 30 minutes.

Despite the extreme weather in the Philadelphia area, Simon Properties’ King of Prussia Mall did not experience any delayed openings for its 300-plus stores, according to a security agent. Executives at Simon did not respond to requests for comment about its shopping centers that have been impacted by the remnants of Ida.