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Sandy No Online Bust

10/30/2012

Sometimes it’s not the size of the storm, it’s where it hits.

As Hurricane Sandy blew through one of the country’s most densely populated regions, it created a surge in online traffic Monday as people sought weather-related news and various forms of online entertainment.

Our October 29 post, “Hurricane Sandy is Retail Boom Then Bust” with top placement on Google for a number of search terms addressed the storm’s impact on retail – mostly bricks and mortar. Online impact appears to be another thing entirely.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of the brisk online traffic was The Weather Channel, which began streaming its television feed live on YouTube and on its own website late Sunday night. On Monday, the channel expected to serve up its highest number of page views in a single day since a blizzard blanketed the northeastern U.S. and Canada with snow on Feb. 1, 2011.

Sandy, now down-graded to a storm, is having a big impact on online retailers.

Retailers that specialize in emergency equipment have fared well. Orders have been coming in practically non-stop since warnings about Hurricane Sandy  went into effect last Thursday. That includes PowerEquipmentDirect.com, which sells generators, chain saws, sump pumps and related gear. Last Friday was the company’s biggest day in its 10-year history.

Major chain retailers such as Lowes says its e-commerce remained online and open for business during the storm. In the last few days in the run-up to Hurricane Sandy, Lowes.com has been fulfilling a steady stream of orders for batteries, flashlights, water, extension cords, sump and utility pumps as well as snow throwers, snow shovels, ice melt and additional products for areas forecasting winter weather. Forecasters say some areas will see temperatures drop to below 30 degrees once the storm departs later this week.

Other online retailers sought to take advantage of all those potential shoppers stuck at home without a whole lot to do.

The frequently controversial American Apparel sent out an email blast Monday night, offering 20% off to customers for the next 36 hours “in case you’re bored during the storm”, sparked a backlash from the Twittersphere.

The ad, below, features a map highlighting the Northeastern United States, where Sandy is hitting the hardest. The sale is only available in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland, according to the email. The ad tells viewers to “Just Enter SANDYSALE at Checkout.”

Hopefully those shoppers at home without power were able to order a new generator so they can recharge their phones, laptops and tablets. Without powered up mobile devices or computers…we’re talking about a real disaster.

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