We are located in Minnesota and it has been a brutal winter. We have had over 50 inches of snow and over 40 days where the temperature was below zero! Most of the country has been suffering from a challenging winter and businesses are seeing the impact.
I was just in a taxi here in MN and the driver talked about the impact on his business. There have been so many flight cancellations and people are just not going out. A restaurant near our home has been so slow that they have closed early several days. Some businesses have had frozen pipes. Local c-stores have seen decreases in both gas and merchandise sales during January. Although we still need gas – fewer are willing to walk inside when it is so cold. All of my hunches about the impact of the cold were validated last week.
Wall Street Journal on Feb 14 had an article about the economic toll of this winter. They do a monthly survey of economists on their forecasts on growth, employment, inflation and monetary policy. They believe that the harsh weather will trim 0.3 percentage point from real gross domestic product this quarter. The cut would pull the first quarter’s annualized growth rate to 2.2% down from the forecast of 2.5% and well below the actual 3.2% rate from the 4th quarter 2013. The Commerce Department reported that retail sales dropped a larger-than-expected 0.4%
The main impact has been keeping the shoppers and diners at home. Plus the cost of staying warm makes it harder to spend at retailers and restaurants. John Lonski of Moody’s Capital Markets sees the higher heating costs as a temporary tax that will slow spending into the spring.
One more source – Bloomberg Personal Finance – Feb 13
January was the coldest in three years, with snowfall almost four times above normal, according to weather-data provider Planalytics Inc. That followed the coldest December since 2009 with snowfall 21 percent above normal.
The drop in sales was broad-based, with nine of 13 major categories showing declines last month, led by auto dealers, sporting goods stores and apparel outlets, today’s retail report showed.
“We’re off to a disappointing start to the year,” said Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, who projected a 0.3 percent decline in sales. “The weather clearly had some impact.” At the same time, “purchasing power is constrained. Consumers really aren’t borrowing, and wage growth is sluggish.”
Spending decreased 0.9 percent at clothing chains and 1.5 percent at department stores. Receipts fell 0.6 percent at furniture outlets and 1.4 percent at retailers of sporting goods, books and music.
Retailers showing an improvement in January sales included electronics stores, building materials outlets, gasoline stations and grocery chains.
The good news is that winter cannot last forever and hopefully all the pent-up demand will show an increase in sales for all businesses in the coming months. Staying connected with your customers during the good and the bad weather helps keep you top of mind when the consumers are ready to venture outside and go out to dinner or do some shopping.
Even in the dead of January - text marketing by a c-store client generated over 50% redemption of the offer! Getting the right offer into a customer's hands will drive revenue.
Simpli is a great way to stay connected and top of mind – just check us out!
Stay warm and stay safe!
PS The picture above is where I go cross country skiing - winter can be beautiful!