How Heavy Snow Impacts Business

Low Light Levels and Productivity

We were fortunate enough to have the bright winter sun shining down on us for most of this week. However, when the snow brings darkness productivity can can suffer a sever blow. A lack of sunlight can cause our brains to produce more melatonin: A hormone designed to help us sleep, which makes us feel tired and lethargic. Sufferers of Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) can find this darkness especially difficult. Winter months in general can see a drop in productivity. When we are confined to the indoors it can lead to a spike in office illness and cabin fever, making us feel low and leading to days off. A positive work environment can help combat some of these ill-effects. Employers can keep offices bright and warm with hot drinks readily available to help boost morale.

So what are the effects of heavy snow fall on businesses?

Aside from the obvious spike in sledge and snow shovel sales and the increase in demand for gas and electricity for heating, the majority of sales can be seen to plunge after heavy snow. General footfall is down during periods of snow meaning that far fewer impulse items such as coffee, sandwiches and newspapers are purchased. Vehicles that use roads or runways can also expect to be on lock down during icy conditions, resulting in high costs to bus and flight companies.

The construction industry suffers from heavy set backs too. Many tasks are more dangerous or cumbersome to undergo in the cold. The ground can freeze up to 5ft down and sometimes requires special equipment to dig up. Tools and building materials can take longer to heat up in the cold and a significant portion of time must be set aside to clear away snow. Each of these can lead to high costs to the company or contractor.

How does snow effect business; assuming your business does not directly involve flights or buses or any kind of outdoor activity? Well, many businesses rely on deliveries of stock or other supplies and if drivers cannot get these items to their destinations it can have a direct impact on sales and work completed. Often, employees are unable to make it to work because the weather conditions have made it dangerous to travel or school closures result in parents having to remain home to look after children. This can cause many businesses chose to remain closed despite losing precious revenue. It is estimated that if 20% of employees cannot make it into work approximately £900m is lost country-wide.

Strains on Public Services

Gritters, emergency service workers, council workers, many of the public services we rely on undergo a huge amount of stress when the weather is extreme. Thousands of people rush to A&E during heavy snowfall due to trips, slips and falls. Elderly people are especially at risk along with those who venture out to sledge and play in the snow. Around 70% of people feel that it is unsafe to travel during these times and accidents and abandoned cars can mean a high cost to those who have to go and rescue them. In addition to these extra strains, the UK spends more than £150m on gritters each year.

It is estimated that overall each snow day will cost Britain a whopping £4b!


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