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The Impact of Weather on the Economy

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It’s snowing in Dallas…again.  Yes, the city that consistently hits 100 degrees in the summer is getting a second snow storm in just a few weeks.  And it’s just in time for the Big Game and all of the visitors that are expected to make a $600 million economic contribution to the North Texas region.

Or at least, that was the plan.  Now what?  Corporate offices, schools, and stores all over the area are closed today due to the ice and snow.  DFW Airport briefly closed earlier, but has since reopened, although about 40% of today’s flights have been cancelled.

We always consider winter events like this to be a burden to ourselves and our normal lifestyles.  Or, we consider them a nice break from the normal work-week grind.  But rarely do we think of how it impacts our economy.  How do the small businesses out there survive these types of events?

Believe it or not, there are companies out there that specialize in studying the affects of weather on our economy.  An NPR article recently brought in Mr. Scott Bernhardt, COO of Planalytics, Inc, to discuss. 

Overall, there are several periods of economic changes before, during, and after a snowstorm.  The first is the days before a predicted snow storm hits.  The days when many people run out to purchase the essentials:  food, water, cold weather clothing, shovels, etc.  Ever tried to go to the grocery store the night before a big storm?  Don’t be surprised to see some empty shelves.

The second phase is during the snowstorm itself.  In areas where the storm is hitting hardest, our economy practically stops.  There are very few transactions taking place, no sales tax receipts for our local governments, and people take time off of work, whether paid or unpaid.  Spending is an essential part of our economy as well, and it simply doesn’t take place to the degree that it does when the weather is cooperative.  Ecommerce is slowing changing this, but our local businesses are still the key to our economy.

The final phase is cleanup.  Sure, government spending is also an important part of the economy.  But what about if the government is spending money it doesn’t have.  Our governments only budget so much for these situations, and when they are worse than we expect, the money has to come from somewhere.

Overall, these storms generally have a negative impact on our economy.  Some businesses thrive, but many suffer.  The key for any small business is to have a “rainy day” fund available.  Always ensure that your business is not so strapped for cash that a few days of lower than normal sales puts your behind on your bills.  Doing so can get you through this nationwide ice/snow event, and anything else Mother Nature throws our way.

You can read the full NPR article by clicking here:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123418422

Visit the Planalytics, Inc. site here:  http://www.planalytics.com/

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