RETAILERS READY FOR ANOTHER HURRICANE

Floridians still recovering from the wreckage of Hurricane Charley were bracing for the possibility of another massive storm crashing into their state late last week.Retailers in the region contacted by SN said they were prepared for the impact of Hurricane Frances, which was projected to hit the Atlantic Coast of Florida over the weekend."Within a few days of the last storm, we had all of our stores

Floridians still recovering from the wreckage of Hurricane Charley were bracing for the possibility of another massive storm crashing into their state late last week.

Retailers in the region contacted by SN said they were prepared for the impact of Hurricane Frances, which was projected to hit the Atlantic Coast of Florida over the weekend.

"Within a few days of the last storm, we had all of our stores up and running. So we're ready for this one," said Shane McEntarfer, a spokesman for Albertsons' Florida division.

He said consumers seemed to be stocking up on provisions well in advance of Hurricane Frances, which was expected to be just as powerful as Hurricane Charley. That storm caused billions of dollars in damages and left large areas without power when it ripped into Florida's Gulf Coast less than a month ago.

"They made the announcement on Monday that the storm might come through on Friday, and we started seeing sales right away," said McEntarfer. "People are a lot more serious about this one and are getting out there a little bit earlier to get supplies."

He said the company had no shortages of emergency provisions, despite the recent run on bottled water, batteries and ice that accompanied Hurricane Charley. Other popular purchases included canned goods and charcoal.

A spokeswoman for Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla., which suffered heavy damage to some of its stores in the last storm, could not be reached for comment. However, local reports indicated that Winn-Dixie also was seeing an early surge in buying in advance of the storm.