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.
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)
Breaking News: @hedislimane joins @celine as its new artistic, creative and image director. One of fashion’s preeminent image-makers and trendsetters, Slimane is to join the LVMH brand on Feb. 1 and unveil his first fashion proposition for men and women next September during Paris Fashion Week. It marks a major homecoming for Slimane, who cemented his reputation – and influenced men’s tailoring for more than a decade – as the designer of Dior Homme between 2000 and 2007. He went on to reinvent and ignite the house of Yves Saint Laurent, which he rechristened Saint Laurent, between 2012 and 2016 – all the while maintaining a close relationship with the Arnault family, which controls LVMH and Dior. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
“Personally I believe the Eighties have been the richest and more vivacious period for international fashion,” Giorgio Armani said when asked what his favorite decade of fashion is. It was a moment of disruption and experimentation and only thinking back to the first years of that decade is always an emotion for me, for what they have meant to me and my work.” The influence is clear in @giorgioarmani spring 2018 collection, pictured here, which was full of bright colors and unexpected prints. Read more about which decades designers loved most on WWD.com #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
For Lady Gaga’s only Italian show on her “Joanne World Tour,” the singer wore a range of @versace_official outfits. The standout piece: this custom-made bodysuit inspired by the brand’s spring 2018 collection. #wwdfashion (RG: @ladygaga)
@_camillaruth_ is expanding on the wellness-craze concept with @westbourne – a new NYC restaurant that’s both a healthy-minded café as well as a business that gives back to the community. Marcus works with the Robin Hood foundation to give back to The Door, a non-profit providing youth development services, and also hires employees through The Door. Read our full interview with Marcus on giving back through food on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)