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Retailers Push Through Woes of Western States

Western retailers have so far managed to sidestep two crises - the flash floods in Las Vegas and the gas shortage in Phoenix.

LOS ANGELES — Western retailers have so far managed to sidestep two crises — the flash floods in Las Vegas and the gas shortage in Phoenix, according to several reports.

One of the worst rainstorms since 1999 flooded residential-heavy northwest Las Vegas, stranding thousands and leaving dozens of others to be rescued. But retailers on the Las Vegas Strip reported only a moderate downpour.

“The Strip was the least affected,” said Maureen Crampton, marketing director of The Forum Shops at Caesars, the popular 510,000-square-foot luxury retail spot. “If anything, the rain really does draw people inward because they’re seeking shelter. So we’ve experienced an increase in foot traffic.”

Other high-profile retail venues, including The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian, Desert Passage and The Fashion Show Mall, also reported business as usual.

“Retail is not expected to be affected,” confirmed Erika Brandvik, a spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Even so, The Forum Shops had sandbags at the ready for flash food warnings issued by the National Weather Service, in effect through 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The sun is expected to emerge again by Friday, according to the NWS, three full days before Magic International is set to begin its four-day run.

“We’re OK,” said Ernae Mothershed, a spokeswoman for the apparel trade show, which draws thousands of people to the city twice a year. “Our operations people have been there for a couple of days and the convention centers are operating normally.”

Only construction was suspected of being delayed by the rain, which prevented work at the Fashion Show Mall, currently in the midst of an expansion. On Wednesday, it was not immediately clear if there would be significant delays, said mall executives. Representatives at Mandalay Place, a 38-unit retail center currently being built adjacent to Mandalay Bay, did not return phone calls as of press time.

Meanwhile, Phoenix had problems of its own. A severe gas shortage, caused by a cracked pipeline delivering 30 percent of the area’s fuel, has sent the city into a panic. However, residents were told by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano Tuesday that the line would be up and running by the weekend.

Calls to several area malls revealed few problems so far, even as some gas stations were still shuttered and those open suffered long lines.

“We’ve maybe had one call from an employee who ran out of gas,” said Melissa Hollar, marketing manager for Paradise Valley Mall, a 1.3 million-square-foot, midlevel retail center there. “But I just walked through the food court and you can’t tell any difference.”