Irma sends South Florida retail spending down 72 percent

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hurricane Irma sent retail spending in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach area down more than 72 percent over a three-day period, according to one payment technology company.

First Data Corp., which tracks online and in-store payments on debit and credit cards, said that overall spending, which includes building materials, gas, food and hotels, fell more than 57 percent in the Sept. 8-10 period, compared to a year ago.

First Data's Rishi Chhabra says the spending patterns were more magnified than with Harvey, which hit the Houston area late last month, because Irma affected more densely populated areas. Still unclear is how much of the downturn retailers may recoup.