* Storm repairs cut into holiday budgets
* Malls say foot traffic down from last year
By Phil Wahba and Beth Pinsker Gladstone
VALLEY STREAM, N.Y./BROOKLYN, N.Y., Nov 23 Malls
across the United States teemed with shoppers looking for Black
Friday bargains, but many in the New York area sat out the
madness, too busy coping with the lingering effects of
The Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, New York, just a few
miles from New York's JFK airport, is in a part of Long Island
that was particularly devastated by the Oct. 29 storm, which
destroyed or severely damaged homes in many low-lying areas.
While still busy, shoppers and store workers alike said it
was far from being the usual mob of years past.
"All the money people are spending on eating or on gas
because they're displaced from their homes is money they won't
spend on gifts," said Liliana Bignardelli, a 30 year-old perfume
saleswoman working out of the Macy's at the mall.
She herself has been displaced since Sandy flooded the first
floor of her home in Freeport, on Long Island, in one of the
worst hit areas. She won't be able to go home until sometime in
December. A colleague of hers said he had never seen a Black
Friday this quiet.
A few doors down, at a Kohl's Corp store, Ed Gunn of
West Hempstead, New York, said that last Black Friday, it took
him forever to find a parking spot. This year, it was easy.
And he put the blame squarely on Sandy. His sister, who
lives in Oceanside, also on Long Island, lost her home.
"They're not worrying about going shopping. They're trying
to get their lives back together," he said.
A number of national retailers in recent weeks have said
that Sandy has affected business. Expected economic losses from
Sandy have been estimated at well north of $50 billion.
"It's clearly had an impact," Macy's Chief Executive Terry
Lundgren told Reuters.
Other retailers reporting an impact from Sandy range from
jeweler Zale Corp to upscale department store operator
Despite the circumstances, some shoppers hurt by the storm
turned out in search of deals given their stretched finances.
At the Kings Plaza Mall, near the parts of Brooklyn that
were flooded the most dramatically, foot traffic was lighter at
the mall on Black Friday than last year, although store workers
said there had been crowds at Best Buy earlier looking
for deals on televisions.
At Macy's, a mall worker named Raffie, was buying shoes for
her son to attend a Sweet 16 party before she started her shift
at a different store.
"We lost everything at our home in Staten Island," she said.