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Fla. Retail Endures Frances

Having been pounded by hurricane Frances, Florida retailers, many closed since Thursday afternoon, began opening where possible on Monday.

Palm Beach island was virtually inaccessible due to flooding Monday, robbing luxury stores on Worth Avenue of sales. A recorded message informed customers that Worth Avenue would reopen Tuesday, Sept. 7, “weather permitting.” Only residents and business owners were allowed to enter Palm Beach Monday and a curfew from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. was issued.

City Place, an open-air center anchored by Burdines-Macy’s, in West Palm Beach, was closed with no information on reopening.

“We’ve got tourists in town who want a place that’s air-conditioned and we’ve got it for them,” said Ron Clair, manager of J.C. Penney at the Florida Mall in Orlando on Monday. The store did not lose power in the storm, and did not suffer damage in the hurricane.

Traffic started slow Monday morning, but had picked up by mid-afternoon.

“Any time you’re closed you’ll lose business. But the reality is, business in Florida has been outstanding all year,” with increased tourist traffic coming back to Orlando, said Clair.

— Ellen Foreman and Georgia Lee, Atlanta
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