At a Wal-Mart store in Riverhead, New York. October 28, 2012 (Reuters) Retailers are not likely to emerge unscathed from the ill effects of Hurricane Sandy, which barreled across the East Coast right before the most important shopping months of 2012. Clothing and holiday gift sales are predicted to face a decline as several retail outlets closed up shop in affected areas due to power outages and extreme weather conditions; this, on top of increased focus on elections and warm weather at the beginning of October. Citigroup Inc. analyst Oliver Chen projects that same-store sales in November may reduce by up to 3% as traffic may fall 40% in storm-weathered areas in the first week of the month, which accounts for about 22% of the month’s sales. In effect, fourth-quarter online sales may likely see a boost, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Gil Luria, Bloomberg reports. Buyers are expected to troop to the likes of Wal-Mart and Home Depot for basic commodities and emergency supplies. The said stores, two of the biggest retailers in the US, will gain from the East Coast’s current predicament due to storm cleanups and people wanting to maintain abundant food stocks. These, however, are likely to put a dent in the average shoppers' holiday budget. Retailers may however, take comfort from the fact that Sandy hit in between back-to-school season and the holidays, a relatively slow time for retail. Much of recovery will depend on when stores can reopen. Retail stores and business offices that have been damaged and cannot immediately resume business after the storm are more likely to suffer a huge blow in sales. Retailers can certainly try to make the most of the situation by applying some savvy marketing tactics. According to a CNBC report , some retailers have started sending out emails offering free shipping, one-day-only sale offers, and special reminders to customers. Home Depot has added a “Storm Central” link to its website and Sears’ has introduced a storm guide. As Sandy heads to Canada next, casualties, millions of households without power, stranded passengers, and impeded public transport are left in its wake. Economists project up to $20 billion in damage costs. The storm hit New Jersey at 8PM on Tuesday, causing severe flooding, high winds, and fallen trees. Seven subways under the East River were flooded and New York’s financial district was shut down, with US stock trading closed for the first time due to extreme weather since 1888. In August last year, the East Coast was hit by Irene, named the fifth-costliest hurricane in the history of the US. Lessons learned from the event rendered retailers better prepared for Sandy, in terms of channeling supplies of water, generators, first-aid kits, flashlights, batteries, dry food, and emergency supplies to hard-hit areas, Yahoo News reports.