This winter is one of the coldest and snowiest in history, and small businesses across the region are suffering from its effects.
Business owners have been reporting slower-than-average sales, which is causing them to trim hours and consider new promotions to help boost sales and make up lost funds during the summer months.
According to research from Planalytics, which analyzes the economic impact of weather, the subzero temperatures and exceptionally snowy winter have cost businesses nationwide of all sizes an estimated $15 billion that can not be made up. That includes money for restaurant meals and entertainment, cancelled trips and employee wages.
Stephanie Moliterno, manager at Dogtopia of Munster, said the weather caused the business to close completely one day and open late and close early on another. She estimates the business has lost at least a few thousand dollars because of the weather.
The business, which provides dog day care and boarding as well as spa services, employs 10 people full or part time. On an average day, the business should see between 40 and 45 dogs, but this winter that average has dipped to about 30.
“Our clients are working from home or just not going in to work, so they don’t need our day care services,” Moliterno said. “Or they’re cancelling flights and trips and don’t need to board their pets.”
She said the business is going to have to market aggressively during the summer to help get back on track.
“We’ve been here for four years, and we’ve never had to completely close because of the weather,” she said. “We’ve never felt the impact of winter like this before.”
At Carriage Court Pizza in Crown Point, owner Fred Laud said the excessive snow and cold kept people from coming into the restaurant. Business dropped at least 10 percent, he said.
“When people don’t want to go outside, it costs us business,” he said. The restaurant stayed open even during the worst storms, making deliveries to people stuck working in the hospital and providing food for emergency workers.
Drivers who were making deliveries were encouraged to drive safely and be wary of the elements, and not worry about delivering as quickly as possible, he said.
“When the roads were bad, we told people they’ll get their food when they get it,” he said. “Customers understand. They were just glad to get something delivered.”
Julie Severa, assistant nursery manager at Allen Landscape in Highland, said customer traffic is down about 10 percent. Staff who would normally spend time working in the nursery during the winter have made up lost hours by doing plowing, she said.
The nursery isn’t expecting any long-term impacts, but said some shipments have been delayed because of the subzero temperatures.
“We haven’t been able to bring in some of our liquid, freezable product since the weather has been so cold,” she said. “Truck trailers are not heated, so when the temperatures get as low as they’ve been getting, there is a considerable risk of product freezing, which reduces its effectiveness. We’ve postponed bringing in those types of product until the temperatures begin to warm up more consistently.”