Food retailers along the East Coast should prepare for heavy sales and quick replenishment of staple groceries and emergency preparedness items as Hurricane Matthew makes its way toward them this week.
Matthew as of early Tuesday was a category 4 hurricane moving through the Caribbean, and on a path to affect millions of U.S. residents from the East Coast of Florida through New England into the weekend, Planalytics, the Berwyn, Pa.-based business weather intelligence service, said in release.
The storm's approach will accompany heightened media coverage, which could drive demand, Planalytics said.
"The threat of Matthew will extend from Richmond northward to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston into the Columbus Day weekend. Coverage of Matthew will drive demand for emergency preparedness items such as flashlights, batteries, generators, bottled water, bagged ice and canned goods," Planalytics said. "Businesses should also be preparing to quickly replenish consumables which are currently in high demand. Additionally, cleanup categories will likely spike after the storm passes into next week."
Florida and North Carolina are currently under a state of emergency to support preparations for residents and businesses from Miami to Wilmington, N.C. "The size and path of the storm suggest that areas along the coast will experience heavy rain, high winds, flooding, storm surge and beach erosion later this week. Power outages and downed trees are also likely," Planalytics said.
Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., is keeping customers informed of storm related store closures on a web page. A "Storm Basics" page at the same site provides shoppers with checklists for emergency supplies and nonperishable foods.
The National Hurricane Center on Tuesday morning said a Hurricane Watch was in effect from Deerfield Beach, Fla., just north of Miami, to to the Volusia/Brevard Fla. county line. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys northward to Deerfield Beach.
A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours, the service said.