The historic storm called Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New York and New Jersey and was not as hard on the state of Delaware. But, it definitely was also somewhat of a stimulus package to local grocery and big box stores.
Grocery stores and big box stores in Kent County and the rest of the East Coast experienced quite a boost in sales last weekend as people prepared for the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy.
Bottled water, bread, milk and eggs were among the popular items as were the requisite batteries and flashlights and a few other items as last-minute shoppers also prepared for the Halloween holiday.
At Redner's in Cheswold and Milford, business over Saturday and Sunday was up and most times all cash registers were open servicing customers, Redner's Markets Inc. spokesman Eric B. White said.
"For both days we were up 30 percent over normal Saturday/Sunday sales," White said. He declined to disclose specific sales figures.
Bottled water, ice, dry groceries such as bread and cereal and batteries led the way in sales, he said.
On Monday, Redner's did half of its daily average sales in face of Hurricane Sandy, White said.
"Neither our store in Dover nor Milford lost any power during the storm and neither suffered any product lost or extensive property damage," he said. "We were able to remain open in the Dover store and provide products for emergency workers who were on the road with storm related activities."
Kmart off U.S. Route 13 in Dover also did exceptionally well before Hurricane Sandy forced the store to close down Monday morning, manager Ralph Bonilla said
"We did very well this weekend with the storm on its way," Bonilla said. "When we heard about the storm, we got together with the bread guy and got some extra bread. So, we didn't quite run out until [Monday] morning. People came in and said, 'Man, we can't find bread anywhere.' So, that worked out."
Kmart took a similar approach with bottled water, Bonilla said. The big box store had four pallets of water already in the stockroom before the storm began its approach, he said. Then, an extra 10 pallets were ordered and arrived on Saturday morning in time for the storm rush.
But the No. 1 category in sales last weekend was camping, Bonilla said.
"With camping, you're looking at lamps, lanterns, propane, stoves and all that survival stuff," he said. "You won't believe what was No. 2. Halloween costumes.
Because people were like, 'if it passes us we still got to go out for Halloween.' No. 3 was, of course, water."
Other big items were crackers, dog and cat food and bread, milk and eggs, Bonilla said.
Bonilla hoped that Kmart's proactive approach in ordering made a good impression on customers in the face of such formidable competition as Walmart, Target, Acme, Safeway and Redner's in the local grocery market.
As for Walmart, the leading sales at the Camden and Cheswold stores were bottled water and prepared foods, Walmart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling said.
"Customers were purchasing water, canned food, candles, propane, flashlights and batteries," Whaling said. "Ready-to-eat foods were another big one if power should go out.
"Following the storm, we saw customers purchase mops and brooms," she said. "People were just looking to prepare themselves and their families."
Both Walmart stores in Camden and Cheswold remained open as long as possible before they closed Monday morning, giving employees time to get home safely, Whaling said.
She declined to discuss whether sales before the hurricane were up over usual sales figures.
At Acme off U.S. Route 13, the most common items sold were water, bread, batteries, granola bars and other types of non-perishable products, Acme spokesman Mike Siemienas said. He too declined to disclose specific sales figures as well as how much of a boost Sandy provided.