Here's how the storm has begun to affect key areas of the economy:
â¿¿ AIR TRAVEL:
Flights in the Northeast are all but stopped for at least two days. Airlines have canceled nearly 12,500 flights for Monday and Tuesday from Washington to Boston. The disruptions spread across the nation and overseas, stranding passengers from Hong Kong to Europe.
Total airline cancellations have already surpassed those from Hurricane Irene last year and are on par with the 14,000 that were scrapped due to the snowstorm that pounded the East Coast early last year. The Airports Council International, a trade group, said that even if the storm damage turns out to be minor, it could be a week before operations are back to normal at major East Coast airports.Eric Danielson was trying to fly Monday from San Francisco to Norfolk, Va., to start a new job. "It was supposed to be only a two-hour layover here in Atlanta, Ga., and now it's beginning to be a 28-hour layover until tomorrow," Danielson said. Wall Street analysts expect carriers like JetBlue, United and Delta to suffer a short-term hit to earnings as they spend money to shuffle crews and planes away from and then back to the East Coast. â¿¿ RETAILERS: The nation's big stores are expected to lose billions, and the losses could extend into the crucial holiday shopping season. Sales at department stores, clothing chains, jewelers and other sellers of non-essential goods are expected to suffer the most. The industry is entering the holiday season, when many retailers collect up to 40 percent of annual revenue. Retailers, excluding restaurants, could lose at least $25 billion in sales this week, estimates Burt Flickinger III of retail consultancy Strategic Resource Group. Even home improvement chains and grocers that will benefit from shoppers stocking up on emergency supplies before the hurricane and cleaning and repair items afterward could lose sales in the long run if overstretched consumers feel they must scale back.
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