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Northeast Stores Dig Out After Storm

Retailers in the area began to return to some degree of normalcy on Sunday.

As the Northeast continued Sunday to dig out from the weekend’s massive snowfall, retailers in the area began to return to some degree of normalcy.

This story first appeared in the February 11, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Driving bans in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts were lifted Saturday, though Connecticut did not do so until 4 p.m. Many municipalities still advised area residents to stay off the roads to give crews more time to clear streets.

All in all, it was slow moving in certain areas such as Connecticut, where more than three feet of snow fell in Hamden. In Greenwich, the usual Saturday afternoon hustle and bustle along Greenwich Avenue was nonexistent, with major retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue shut tight. Rhode Island was another area that was hit hard, with wind gusts of more than 90 miles per hour knocking out power. Providence Place, like all the General Growth Properties Inc.-owned malls in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, was closed Saturday but it and the others reopened Sunday, said vice president of corporate communications David Keating.

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In North Conway, N.H., where more than two feet of snow fell, Settler’s Green reopened the doors at its 60 brand-name outlet stores Sunday after closing early Friday and all day Saturday. “Average to slow” was how an American Eagle Outfitters sales associate described store traffic Sunday.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino gave the city’s public school students another snow day Monday, in order to give crews more time to dig out the city’s streets. In Rhode Island, some schools were expected to remain closed because they were being used as shelters. Power was expected to be restored Sunday throughout the state, which was among the hardest hit, according to Gov. Lincoln Chafee in a Sunday morning press conference.

As of Sunday morning, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. still had 20 stores closed but it expected to reopen half of those by the end of the day, a company spokeswoman said. At the peak of the storm, there were about 132 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores closed, mostly in Connecticut and Massachusetts, due primarily to government mandated travel bans. Trucks transporting generators were en route to stores without electrical power Sunday afternoon, the Wal-Mart spokeswoman said.

In anticipation of the storm, Wal-Mart shipped extra deliveries of shovels, gloves, coats, boots, ice salt, kerosene lamps, batteries and flashlights to its stores in the path of the storm. Now that it has come and gone, the retailer’s emergency replacement team has been reviewing sales data from previous ice storms and tweaking deliveries as needed, the spokeswoman said.

Target Corp. closed 39 stores Saturday due to the storm, but all of them reopened Sunday, a company spokeswoman said. In response to the snowstorm, Target posted safety tips and information about store closings on its Web site Saturday.

The Talbots Inc. had to close 69 stores early on Friday, mainly due to driving bans and road closures. Fifty-seven stores remained shut Saturday, but by Sunday only four had yet to reopen.

All of the stores at The Westchester in White Plains, N.Y., were open Sunday for normal business hours and aside from a delayed opening on Saturday — noon instead of 10 a.m. — mall traffic was typical for a February Sunday, according to Rachel Robinson, a guest services associate. “Actually, it’s pretty busy. Nothing is really stopping anyone from coming out,” she said “Everything is open except for a Godiva store that had some leakage.”

After being closed on Saturday, the Americana Manhasset on Long Island reopened Sunday with most visitors stopping by for lunch, not shopping, said security officer Alvin Kennedy. Of the 50 or 60 stores, there were only four that had not reopened Sunday — Etro, Burberry, Beauty Bar and Martin Viette Home & Garden.

“The parking lot is cleared and it’s getting pretty busy right now,” he said. “The sun is shining, but, no, the stores aren’t busy.”