Superstorm Sandy knocks off big chunk of retail sales

A sign hangs on the window of a business in in Middleburgh, N.Y. in advance of Hurricane Sandy on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Middleburgh suffered flood damage after last year's Tropical Storm Irene. Hurricane Sandy continued on its path Monday, as the storm forced the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds and soaking rain. (AP Photo/Mike Groll) Mike Groll

NEW YORK Superstorm Sandy knocked off nearly $4 billion of retail sales last week in the hard-hit Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region, nearly 20 percent of the usual total, according to a figures released Tuesday by a retail data service.

MasterCard (MA) Advisors' SpendingPulse says Tuesday that the region, which accounts for about 24 percent of retail sales nationwide, typically generates $18.7 billion in sales for the week ended Saturday. But revenue came in at about $15 billion. The figures exclude auto sales.

"This was a significant negative event for the region," said Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis for SpendingPulse, which monitors all types of spending, including cash.

That dragged down the nationwide sales total for the week ended Saturday. Nationwide, retailers typically generates $78 billion in sales for that particular week, but McNamara, estimates the total ended up being about $74 billion.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were among the states that operated below normal retail capacity. For example, New York operated about 79 percent of retail capacity. Typically, New York accounts for anywhere from 7.5 percent to 8 percent of U.S. sales, but last week the state accounted for about 6.3 percent.

Superstorm Sandy slammed into the Northeast on Oct. 29, disrupting business activity up and down the Eastern Seaboard and causing stores to close due to power outages, flooding and other problems. Meanwhile, many shoppers stayed close to home because of the weather and gas shortages.

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