Shoppers preparing for Hurricane Irma—and restocking afterward—resulted in $250 million in incremental sales and higher profits for Publix Super Markets in its fiscal third quarter, the company said.
Irma hit the U.S. in early September, affecting a wide swath of Florida and the Southeast where Publix operates stores. Though the storm resulted in temporary store closures due to evacuations, nearly all of Publix’s affected supermarkets were reopened within two days, operating on generator power if normal power had not been restored. All of Publix’s stores, with the exception of one in Key West, Fla., opened within six days. The Key West store opened the following week, Publix said.
According to Publix, the event increased sales by about $250 million, or 3.1% in the quarter ended Sept. 30. Profits for these sales more than offset about $25 million in incremental costs related to fuel generators, facility repairs and clean-up, the company said. Higher sales volume efficiencies drove gross margin higher in the quarter to 27% of sales vs. 26.5% in the same period last year.
Total sales for the quarter of $8.5 billion improved by 6.2%, while comparable-store sales increased by 4.3%, primarily due to hurricane sales effects. Net earnings of $475 million improved by 12.8%.
“We have faced many hurricanes in our past, but none with the size and impact of Hurricane Irma,” Todd Jones, Publix CEO and president, said in a statement. “I could not be more proud of our associates for their passionate service to our customers before and after the hurricane.”
Effective Nov. 1, Publix’s stock price increased from $36.05 per share to $36.85 per share. Publix stock is available only to its directors and current employees.