October 30, 2012
Grocery stores and eateries could find themselves slammed with foot traffic from weary Northeasterners in the days ahead as the nation seeks to recover from a superstorm that has left millions without electricity and been linked to nearly 40 deaths.
The monstrous storm named Sandy is expected to be one of the costliest in the nation's history, eating into government coffers, businesses and wreaking a tidal wave of emotional damage.
Outside the United States, Sandy wreaked havoc on crops in one of the world's poorest countries. "Most of the agricultural crops that were left from Hurricane Isaac were destroyed during Sandy so food security will be an issue," Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told Reuters.
The atrocious weather also caused many food and beverage establishments in the Northeast to close operations. Starbucks, alone, shut down 1,000 stores Oct. 29 from Virginia to Maine, a spokesperson told The New York Post.
As of Oct. 30, the damage from Sandy was colossal: 48 people dead and an estimated 8.2 million people without power, according to Fox News. "This was a devastating storm," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "maybe the worst that we have ever experienced."
In spite of Sandy's devastating impacts, some businesses could profit economically including restaurants catering to those without a crucial commodity: power. As night fell Tuesday, millions of Americans still were without electricity.
"We will be feeding a lot of the community who will be without power," Dan Lowe, a director of Washington, D.C. for Firehouse Subs, said Monday in an article published in FastCasual.com.
Planalytics, a business weather intelligence firm, anticipates that bottled water, canned foods and packed ice are among the items that will remain in strong demand in the days ahead.
As Sandy, previously classified as a hurricane made its way toward New Jersey, U.S. businesses geared up to protect their customers and employees. Josephine Capozzi, vice president of Franchise Relations for Jersey Mike's Subs, told FastCasual.com that the chain issued "Hurricane Best Practices" last week when the storm began forming on the radar.
"These best practices cover everything from how to serve the inside/outside of (a) facility to food safety to what to expect upon reopening," Capozzi said.
U.S. demand for certain food and other consumer items was insatiable in anticipation of a superstorm that stretched hundreds of miles, pummeling subways and other public infrastructure.
"Leading up to the storm, home centers, mass merchants, and grocery stores experienced a surge in traffic as consumers were purchasing 'must have' items," said Planalytics. "Additionally, quick service restaurants, gas stations and ATM's experienced strong traffic, particularly in and around communities where evacuations occurred."
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