- Hurricane Dorian is pushing toward the U.S. and is expected to hit the southeast coast of Florida sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday, according to CNN.
More than 50 Walmart stores in Florida have closed in anticipation of the hurricane, including supercenters and Neighborhood Markets, according to the company’s website.
- Winn-Dixie has closed 46 stores and Publix is working to remain operational but will be adjusting the hours of its stores in affected areas, First Coast News reported.
Publix posted on its Facebook page that it will update customers frequently on the status of store locations on its website. Walmart is keeping Facebook pages updated for each of its local stores, and Winn-Dixie is posting updates every four hours, at minimum, on its website.
In addition to store information, Publix has set up a special section on its website that offers customers tools and checklists to help them prepare for hurricane season. Walmart has a portal for employees to get more information and support on disaster preparation.
Retailers like Publix have established themselves as vital resources during inclement weather, and companies emphasize safety first and foremost. Financially, natural disasters can lead to mixed results for grocers. Some see a jump in sales as people buy up everything they can in preparation for a storm. But store closures due to hurricanes, flooding or power outages can cause major losses. For example, Publix’s Q3 earnings in 2018 were lower than the year prior because of negative impacts from Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Hurricane Irma, which hit the year before, delivered a notable boost to its Q3 earnings in 2017.
Emergency preparedness is part of most grocery companies’ strategies, but dealing with real situations is still extremely challenging. In a previous interview with Grocery Dive, Doug Baker, vice president of industry relations for the Food Marketing Institute, said the organization sends out crisis guidelines to its members, most of whom begin preparing the moment they get a notification for a hurricane.
This is the first major hurricane to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Michael, which took place last October. If Dorian follows its projected path, it could hit parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas this week.