BMO Capital Markets said in a research note on Monday, Sept. 11, that while already-troubled traditional, apparel retailers Express Inc. (EXPR) - Get Report , Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF) - Get Report , L Brands Inc. (LB) - Get Report and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (AEO) - Get Report , will likely take the biggest hit from Hurricane Irma, online retailers, like e-commerce titan Amazon, might see a slight benefit.
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"As some may know, while hunkering down before and during a hurricane, there are a few things to do to kill time," BMO analysts John Morris, Brandon Cheatham and Trevor Lamb wrote. "While the power and internet are still up, many take to online shopping."
"Looking at the most recent track," BMO said Express is the most exposed to Irma, with 7.7% of its total store footprint in the storm's path; Abercrombie, with 7.6%; L Brands, 6.6%, and American Eagle, 6.3%.
Express, Abercrombie, Victoria's Secret parent L Brands and American Eagle, next to most bricks-and-mortar retailers, have been under serious pressure by the growing consumer shift to online shopping, primarily with Amazon.
The NPD Group recently revealed that Amazon, along with dominating tech, is now one of the 10 top online retailers selling apparel. Amazon Prime Wardrobe, the e-commerce titan's service that allows Prime members to try on clothes before buying, is one of the "hottest new shopping channels in the swiftly evolving $217.6 billion U.S. apparel market," NPD wrote in a July 31 study.
After causing destruction in the Virgin Islands and Cuba as a category 5 storm, Hurricane Irma made landfall in the lower Florida Keys on Sunday morning with top winds of 130 miles per hour. As of Monday morning, the National Hurricane Center downgraded Irma to a tropical storm as it moved into Georgia and other southern states including Alabama.
BMO's Morris, Cheatham and Lamb were not available for further comment.
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