Efforts shifted to disaster relief as retailers scrambled to stock supplies ranging from water to batteries.
Halloween was hit hard, although the rush to sell batteries, water, flashlights and other needs offset some candy and decorating losses.
But, now executives wonder if Sandy will steal Christmas.
Charting the course for the upcoming holiday season is as difficult as predicting the path of a storm, buyers and manufacturers said. Most have downgraded holiday expectations from gains of 6 percent in beauty to more modest 3 to 4 percent increases.
No one debates that residual damage from the storm will impact not only Americans’ moods. However, those in the beauty business hope there is enough time between the disaster and actual shopping that spirits will be brighter and that the beauty category will offer a cheery gift idea.
There are signs that consumers want to get back to shopping.
Already, retailers told of shoppers — many who had been stuck inside without power —venturing out to stores for needs or just to see neighbors.
A Walgreens in Hillsborough, N.J., was operating with limited power — welcoming throngs of customers, many of whom said they couldn’t be cooped up any longer. Restaurants had two-hour waits as residents sought warmth, light and food. Target stores allowed people to charge phones and use Wi-Fi.
Much of November sales gains will hinge upon how many stores the major chains can open, and how fast they can do it. And, of course, online commerce depends upon people getting Internet access restored. Estimates from Planalytics, a weather-related planning organization, said most national U.S. chains have at least 10 percent of stores in affected markets. Some suppliers estimated the markets hardest hit account for 15 percent to 20 percent of their beauty sales.
By the end of Wednesday, Walgreens said that more than two-thirds of the 750 stores initially closed due to the storm had reopened, leaving only 239 still closed. More than a dozen were open without power and 55 were open despite light or moderate damage. Numerous stores are operating with electric generators, 180 of which were stationed in advance of the storm for rapid deployment. Walgreens has nearly 1,400 stores in the impacted area.
CVS said it was down to 68 closures. Rite Aid said the vast majority of stores are open.
Beauty executives — both manufacturers and buyers — were getting back to work Thursday, crafting plans to put Christmas back on track.
“I think over the next four to six weeks, beauty sales will be down considerably,” said Barry Shields, managing partner in Innovative Beauty Group. His company produces Red Carpet Manicure, a line poised for a huge sales explosion this holiday, according to retailers. “I think women’s priorities in this area [hit hardest by the storm] will be to care for their families,” said Shields. However, he added that while “the majority of household discretionary spending may go to other more important items like a new roof or tree removal, the idea of a ‘pick-me-up treat’ from a cost effective beauty item won’t go away.”
Shawn Haynes, vice president of retail sales at E.l.f. Cosmetics, believes that the time in between healing from the storm to actually shopping could help. “There is enough time to put the storm behind us, the weather to cool off and consumers to get out and shop,” he said. That might dash chains’ plans to get Christmas sales churning early and buyers did admit they may have to slash prices sooner than planned.
One retail executive said it is too soon to call Christmas. “We took a hit at Halloween because the storm happened on the highest volume days [for candy]. The result will be based on how many stores reopen. Christmas depends on when life gets back to normal.”
Retailers were quick to add they felt lessons from past storms helped them gear up in the right locations with merchandise to help people prepare. Also, at press time, several hoped for a sales blip on candy as towns rescheduled Halloween trick-or-treating for over the weekend.
On the supplier side, there are some fears of production problems — a situation other categories, which are produced in other parts of America, or the world, won’t experience. Some beauty companies said their plants are without power and water, halting manufacturing.
The nation’s retailers are already jumping in to help, with Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid among those earmarking funds to aid relief efforts.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast