• Shopping surged before storm and then dropped precipitously
  • Miami metro area purchases fall 57%, First Data reports

Consumer spending in Miami and Fort Lauderdale plunged more than 57 percent from a year earlier last weekend as Hurricane Irma caused residents to evacuate or take shelter, according to a report from First Data Corp.

Information released by the Atlanta-based company, which tracks shopping activity through the transactions it processes, shows consumption peaked Sept. 5 and then cratered Sept. 8, two days before Irma made landfall. A narrower gauge of retail spending that strips out industries such as restaurants and grocery stores shows an even steeper decline of 72 percent for the period of Sept. 8 to Sept. 10.

“During the days of the hurricane, spending went down more dramatically,” said Rishi Chhabra, First Data’s vice president of information and…