Atlanta, The Gulf Coast monster hurricane that is buffeting Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama has provided an unasked-for lift to sales at The Home Depot and its top competitor, Lowe’s. Consumers in the three hardest-hit states, as well as in Florida, have stocked up on plywood and safety supplies such as flashlights and batteries.
Sales are anticipated to track well after Hurricane Katrina passes through, as consumers begin to rebuild homes, businesses and other properties damaged by the storm. But the storm’s full effect on sales depends in part on how much damage the stores themselves suffer and how long they will be closed.
About a dozen Home Depot stores from New Orleans to Pensacola, Fla., are closed. About 10 Lowe’s stores in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are closed.
Both chains have command centers in full operation, and safety inspectors will begin walking through stores tonight, as possible, to inspect for damage and to provide reopening recommendations.