LINCOLN, Neb. - An unusually heavy snowstorm here last week on the cusp of spring boosted operators' sales and caused some delivery problems, but it also brought some relief to the drought-stricken farmers that are the lifeblood of the state's economy.
"Nobody is complaining about it," said Kathy Siefken, executive director, Nebraska Grocery Industry Association, based here. "We've been in drought conditions for a couple of years, and this was a wet, heavy snow that will bring a lot of moisture, and we needed that."
Pat Raybould, president of B&R Stores, also based here, said three of his chain's 20 stores - in the Nebraska towns of Hastings, Grand Island and Columbus - were hit the hardest, with nearly two feet of snow, although they all remained open.
Popular items, as expected, included grocery staples, ice melt, wiper fluid and snow shovels - the last of which proved to be a little too popular, Raybould said, noting that all three hard-hit stores ran out of shovels while the company sat on a surplus at its other locations.
"The good news is, you are supposed to sell out," he said. "The bad news is, we had a surplus here in Lincoln and we probably could have sold a lot more."
He said the company, which is supplied by Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kan., had some delays in delivery.
Martin Arter, president of Affiliated Foods Midwest, Norfolk, Neb., said his company also had some delivery problems.
"The snow plows were unable to clear the roads, which prevented some of our equipment that was already out making deliveries from coming back," he said, noting that trucks were still about 12 hours behind on Tuesday. Snow began falling Friday and continued through the weekend.
Consumers anticipating the storm began buying heavily on Sunday "and they cleaned out the stores," Arter said, "which is a good thing for us."
Richard Juro, president, No Frills Supermarkets, Omaha, Neb., said the brunt of the storm passed by his headquarters city, but his stores still enjoyed a strong sales surge in the days leading up to the snowfall.
"We had a very nice bump in sales Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and then we probably lost some on Monday and Tuesday," he said.