By and and and  on January 5, 2014

Hercules flexed its muscle over the Northeast on Thursday night, forcing retailers in many parts of the area to delay their openings Friday morning.

The first significant snowstorm of 2014, dubbed Hercules by the Weather Channel, dumped up to two feet of snow across the area, forcing the cancelation of thousands of flights and the closure of several major roadways overnight, including the Long Island Expressway and the New York State Thruway.

Both New York and New Jersey were under a state of emergency and the governor of Massachusetts closed state government. New York City schools were also closed, as were many school districts throughout the Northeast.

Along with the storm came frigid temperatures, dropping to 8 degrees below zero in Burlington, Vt., early Friday. Boston got hit by 13 inches of snow while west of the city the snowfall was as much as 23 inches in the small town of Boxford, Mass. New York City got seven inches.As of Friday morning, the storm hasbeen blamed for four deaths including a woman outside Rochester, N.Y., who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and froze to death after she wandered out of her home.

A spot check of stores in the area found that some malls in New Jersey and on Long Island pushed back their openingsto noon from the standard 10 a.m. Friday morning. That included the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., which received eight inches of snow, as well as the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, N.Y.

A spokeswoman for the Simon Property-owned Copley Plaza mall in Boston, said, "The mall is open. Some stores may be opening later today."

In Manhattan, most stores were able to open at their regular time, including Macy’s Herald Square, which opened at 9 a.m., and Bloomingdale's 59th Street and Saks Fifth Avenue, which opened at 10 a.m.

Citigroup analyst Oliver Chen, who expects most shoppers to stay home on Friday and Saturday, said fourth-quarter sales could be lowered by 1 percent due to Hercules. He also expects Vera Bradley Inc., The TJX Cos. Inc. and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. to be impacted the most as they have the highest store concentration in the storm regions.

According to Chen, Vera Bradley has 36 percent of its stores in the Northeast and 18 percent in the Midwest; TJX has 29 percent in the Northeast and 16 percent in the Midwest, while American Eagle has 26 percent in the Northeast and 18 percent store concentration in the Midwest.

"Fossil and Ross Stores rank as the least impacted retailers, with 32 percent and 8 percent store concentration respectively in the Northeast and Midwest areas combined," Chen noted.

The analyst also noted that accessory and jewelry retailers are less affected than apparel and softline stores. Store concentration is slightly less — on average 35 to 40 percent — for companies such as Coach Inc., Signet Jewelers Ltd., Tiffany & Co. and Zale Corp., compared with an average of 40 to 45 percent concentration for American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ascena Retail Group, Gap Inc. and Urban Outfitters Inc.


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