Snow and cold weather can have a significant impact on businesses, especially in sectors that rely on outdoor activities, transportation, or consumer demand. Depending on the severity and duration of the winter conditions, businesses may face challenges such as reduced sales, increased costs, disrupted supply chains, or damaged assets. In this article, we will explore some of the ways that cold weather affects different types of businesses and how they can cope with the challenges.
Winter tourism and recreation
One of the most obvious sectors that is affected by cold weather is winter tourism, which includes businesses such as ski resorts, ice skating rinks, snowmobile rentals, and winter festivals. These businesses depend on the availability and quality of snow and ice to attract customers and generate revenue. However, snow and ice are also unpredictable and variable, and can pose risks such as avalanches, injuries, or equipment failures.
According to a report by the World Economic Forum, climate change is expected to reduce the amount and reliability of snowfall in many regions, which will negatively affect the winter tourism industry. Some businesses may have to invest in artificial snowmaking, which can be costly and environmentally harmful, or diversify their offerings to include other activities that are less dependent on snow. Others may have to relocate to higher altitudes or latitudes or close down altogether.
On the other hand, some businesses may benefit from snow and cold weather, especially if they are located in areas that do not usually experience such conditions. For example, the January 2024 Met Office amber cold weather health alert for the UK, with snow expected in some areas created a surge in demand for winter clothing, equipment, and activities, as people wanted to enjoy the rare snowfall. Some businesses, such as sledging parks and winter wonderland events, took advantage of the opportunity and offered unique and fun experiences for customers.
Transportation and logistics
Another sector that is heavily affected by cold weather is transportation and logistics, which includes businesses such as airlines, railways, road haulage, delivery services, and public transport. These businesses rely on the smooth and safe operation of vehicles, infrastructure, and networks to transport people and goods. However, snow and cold weather can cause delays, cancellations, accidents, or breakdowns, which can result in lost revenue, increased costs, customer dissatisfaction, or legal liabilities.
According to a study by the European Commission, the economic impact of extreme weather events on the transport sector in the EU was estimated at €15 billion per year between 1998 and 2009, with snow and ice accounting for 37% of the total. Some of the measures that businesses can take to mitigate the impact of cold weather include investing in weather-resistant vehicles and infrastructure, implementing contingency plans and alternative routes, providing accurate and timely information to customers, and collaborating with other stakeholders to coordinate responses.
Retail and hospitality
A third sector that is influenced by cold weather is retail and hospitality, which includes businesses such as shops, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues. These businesses depend on consumer demand and spending, which can vary depending on the weather. Snow and cold weather can have both positive and negative effects on consumer behavior, depending on factors such as the type of product or service, the location, the timing, and the mood of the customers.
According to research by Gusto, the retail trade, especially in the leisure and hospitality sectors, was most vulnerable to the impact of cold weather, as customers tend to stay indoors and reduce their spending on non-essential items and services. Some of the strategies that businesses can use to cope with the impact of cold weather include offering discounts, promotions, or delivery options, creating a warm and cosy atmosphere, or providing seasonal products or services that appeal to customers.
Concluding Thoughts on the Impact of Snow on Businesses
In conclusion, snow and cold weather can have a significant impact on businesses in various sectors, such as winter tourism and recreation, transportation and logistics, and retail and hospitality. The impact can be positive or negative, depending on the nature and extent of the winter conditions, and the type and location of the businesses.
Businesses can adopt different strategies to cope with the challenges and opportunities posed by snow and cold weather, such as investing in weather-resistant infrastructure, offering discounts and promotions, or providing seasonal products and services. However, as climate change alters the patterns and frequency of cold weather, businesses may also have to adapt to the changing environment and customer preferences. If you want advice on how to make your business ‘weather-proof’, get in touch!