U.S. retailers shut stores as Hurricane Idalia slams Florida, Georgia

Shoppers exit a Target store during Black Friday sales in Brooklyn, New York

(Reuters) - Several U.S. retailers including Target and Walmart closed stores and adjusted store hours in preparation for Hurricane Idalia that plowed into Florida's Gulf Coast on Wednesday and then turning its fury on southeastern Georgia.

Idalia grew from a tropical storm into a hurricane early on Tuesday, a day after passing west of Cuba, where it damaged homes, knocked out power, flooded villages and prompted mass evacuations.

"We're taking precautions including bringing merchandise and rental vehicles inside, closing any interior roll-up doors, and protecting entrances with pallets of hard goods like lumber," a Home Depot spokesperson said in an email.

Target, Home Depot and Best Buy said they had closed stores in the impacted areas and adjusted hours at locations projected to be in the storm's path.

Officials have said the storm's most dangerous feature would be a powerful surge of wind-driven surf that is expected to flood low-lying areas along the coast.

About 80 Walmart and Sam Clubs stores were closed in Florida and Georgia, according to Walmart's website.

"Before the storm made landfall, we took measures with our stores and clubs which included sharing preparedness information with all associates, offering evacuation assistance where needed," Walmart told Reuters in an email.

Department store chain Kohl's has also closed 12 stores in Florida and two stores in Georgia, the company said on its website.

"We currently have five stores temporarily closed because of the storm, and 48 stores with reduced hours," a spokesperson for Target said in an email.

Separately, airlines in the United States canceled more than 1,000 flights as of Wednesday afternoon, while about 2,000 were delayed. Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines were among the worst hit, as per flight-tracking website FlightAware data.

(Reporting by Savyata Mishra, Ananya Mariam Rajesh and Granth Vanaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)