Weather Affects on Economy

Jan 21

By Meg Moss


Did you get excited for all the snow, or did you hibernate until it was over? Did you get the day off? Or were you called in to work extra hours? Were you able to find alternative childcare for your wide-eyed snow enthusiasts?

Regardless of how the recent weather events affected you personally, it certainly affects the economy. Money magazine says “we’ve seen the pattern repeat itself many times over.” People panic, (or maybe we should call it prepare) and run to the store to buy milk, bread and eggs. Other big purchases prior to the snow? Shovels, flashlights, salt, and snow boots. So grocery stores, home improvement stores, business selling cold weather items, and gas stations fare well before the storm. My personal favorite is a stop into Stanley’s Home Store in downtown Sanford for a new sled for the kiddos. These sales can help our local economy, but it’s only temporary.

Despite good sales in these particular areas, winter weather in general, and snow in particular, (especially in the south) isn’t a good thing for retail and restaurants. Let’s be honest, no one is going to brave the cold and snow to go out and purchase a luxury item. If someone doesn’t need it, they are going to wait. People just aren’t going to risk getting into their cars.

And while some argue that online sales increase during heavy snow, others say not to jump to that conclusion. According to Adobe Digital Index data, winter storms can result in a decrease in online sales, largely because people are at home rather than at work. “During the work week, a lot of people really do shop from their work desktop,” Adobe analyst Tamara Gaffney explained to “You also have power outages and people out shoveling snow. They’re not shopping, they’re doing other things. It has a negative impact on e-commerce.”

Lost productivity is also a huge economic concern during the snowy days, particularly in our community. With thirty percent of the Lee County workforce working in the manufacturing industry, our productivity loss effects other businesses throughout the state, and nationwide. For example, our local Tyson plant supplies shells to Taco Bell restaurants all along the east coast, Coty’s Sanford location serves as a distribution site to multiple states, and Sanford’s Caterpillar plant manufactures skid steers that are shipped nationwide.

Other economic impacts of wintry weather include the costs for local government. Regular snow removal costs the city money. Government shut-downs due to weather also impact their ability to, for example, approve building inspections. This then slows down the builder, and you have the trickle down affect. Everything gets slowed down. Loss of productivity generally equates to loss of income.

But let’s look on the bright side. While we may be temporarily slowed down at work, we’ve been given an opportunity to slow down and spend some time at home, hopefully with family. Or even if it was time alone, I hope you seized the chance to grab a good book and a cup of coffee for a relaxing afternoon looking out the window at that powdery wintery weather.

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