NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Nor'easter that tore through parts of New York City, Long Island, Connecticut and Boston Monday evening into Tuesday morning has left a path of retail store closures that could significantly impact the companies involved.
A Starbucks (SBUX) spokeswoman told TheStreet the company began closing hundreds of stores early on Monday to ensure employees could get home safely, and that those locations remain closed today. Meanwhile, Best Buy (BBY) closed a number of stores throughout the Northeast early on Monday and a spokesman said he expected many of those stores would open late or not at all on Tuesday. A Target (TGT - Get Report) spokeswoman said that several stores in the impacted area were planning to delay their opening times on Tuesday on a case-by-case basis.
Any prolonged period of extreme winter weather into February could harm many retailers that are about to close the books on their fiscal years and communicate to Wall Street their guidance for the first quarter. Apparel retailers such as Macy's (M - Get Report) and Gap (GPS - Get Report) could be forced to mark down the spring-related merchandise that arrived in stores post-Christmas. And unplanned expenses for households like ice melt and shovels, as well as lost days at work, could depress sales of non-essential merchandise at Target and Walmart (WMT - Get Report) .
The extent of the storm's disruption became more apparent Tuesday morning in calls made by TheStreet to malls along the East Coast. Long Island's Roosevelt Field Mall, owned by Simon Property Group (SPG - Get Report) , will be closed on Tuesday. It plans to open back up on Wednesday after cleanup efforts are completed and county travel restrictions are lifted. Connecticut's Danbury Fair Mall is tentatively planning to open Tuesday at 1:00 pm once travel bans are revoked. There was no answer to the mall offices at Boston's Copley Square Mall, presumably due to the severe weather's impact. The mall normally opens at 9:00am.
One of the storm's survivors: Pennsylvania's King Of Prussia Mall, which will open at its standard time of 10:00 am. The mall did close early on Monday as retailers that include Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus sent workers home to beat the storm's wrath.
A Walmart spokeswoman said the company has not made any announcement regarding storm-related store closures or delays.
Retailers learned a harsh lesson just one year ago as the Polar Vortex triggered storms that closed stores and made consumers re-think their purchases.
Severe winter weather in January and February of last year was generally unkind to Home Depot (HD - Get Report) and Lowe's (LOW - Get Report) . Some of the coldest temperatures on record in the Midwest and Northeast led to a same-store sales decline in Home Depot's outdoor project categories that included lumber and building materials in the fourth quarter. Strong demand for weather-related categories such as portable heaters, pumps, weather stripping and snow removal equipment only partially offset the sales shortfall in pricier building materials. In all, Home Depot estimated it lost $100 million in sales in January from inclement weather.
Lowe's was in the same boat as its larger rival. Although Lowe's saw a healthy appetite for space heaters, shovels, ice melt, and pipe fittings to repair burst pipes, demand for building materials waned. The company estimated that its fourth quarter sales came in $100 million below its expectations due to unfavorable weather.
Macy's reported sales well short of what they had planned last January due to to winter weather, while at the other end of the mall, J.C. Penney suffered as well. Pointing out that "300 stores were closed during a period of time in one place or another" due to storm activity, J.C. Penney Chairman and CEO Mike Ullman also noted people were not buying much when they did visit the stores around specific weather events. One area that did do OK for the company was online, as consumers sat trapped at home and surfed the web.