HOUSTON RETAILERS FORCED TO CLOSE EARLY BECAUSE OF HEAVY RAINSTORMS, FLOODING

Byline: Holly Haber

DALLAS--Heavy rainstorms and flooding clobbered Houston's retail business Tuesday, causing many stores to close early so workers and shoppers could go home.
The area has been hit by heavy rains since Saturday, but conditions worsened on Tuesday. At press time, roads were being closed and many entrances to freeways were blocked. Outlying areas north and southeast of Houston were severely affected.
A J.C. Penney official, noting that business was light, said they planned to shut 10 to 12 stores in Houston and southeast Texas between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. instead of the usual 9 p.m. closing. The official said the decision to close would be made together with the malls to insure the safety of customers and sales associates.
In the Galleria Mall, Field's was slated to close at 5 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. "The rising water at night is very scary for associates driving home," said Jan Miller, the mall's general manager. "We're very disappointed because we're in the middle of our fall Field Days sales, one of our major promotions. From a business standpoint, this was a very tough decision."
Neiman Marcus at the Galleria closed three hours early.
Macy's, Sears, Mervyn's and Marshall Field's were among other stores that closed early, often three or more hours ahead of schedule. About 20 of the 80 employees at Tootsies' flagship store made it to work. They were sent home at 2 p.m.
"We had some traffic this morning and did some business until about noon, but a lot of our employees live in outlying areas, so we closed early to let them get home safely," said Kenny Rosmarin, Tootsies' director of information systems. "The bayous are topping off, and when that happens the streets start to flood," he said.
Specialty Retailers shut its Houston headquarters around 2 p.m. and several of its Palais Royal stores at 5 p.m.

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