Weather Has Dampened Small Business Sales In the New Year

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Snowy weather has made its mark on small business sales in the new year, with reports of lowered revenues compared to last year’s Winter. The culprit is obvious: the polar vortex of cold air that has set in over much of the country, leading to record cold temperatures, heavy snow falls and congestion of infrastructure. When whole work forces have been stuck at home due to excessive difficulty traveling, it can be tough for small businesses with already limited cash flows to strain to meet their obligations to their employees and customers. Additionally, many of the customers that might otherwise frequent their businesses have been discouraged from spending time outside, leaving businesses hungry for the volume that they would otherwise have expected.

Should small business owners slow down their plans? While small business owners have recently been reporting a heightened level of ambition and optimism, the limits imposed by the weather have some considering abandoning their expansion plans. The Wall Street Journal has reported on the effect of the weather,  finding that 1 in 3 business owners reached in their survey with Vistage have felt deleterious effects on their sales that have caused them to rethink their Spring plans. Despite this, it may be a mistake for businesses to slow down their plans if they feel that the market for their products and services is only temporarily down because of the weather. Depending on business model and variables including location and the demographics within their areas, business owners may be either more or less inclined to blaze forwards with their expansion plans now that their reserve tanks have been taxed.

The weather will improve, but what about the economy? The plans to expand that have been put on hold by storms in some cases are going to be gone for good, but for other business owners, the road to growth will become clear within the next couple months. For these business owners, the real threat to their ability to sustain expansion is whether or not the economy as a whole will continue on an upward trend, or if there will be more surprises down the road. Fears of events like the Government Shutdown, which caused optimism levels to plunge and businesses that relied on government contracts severely strapped if not put out of business, are very real and on the minds of many business owners watching the headlines. The real test of a small business’s optimism is whether or not they believe that things will continue to go well after the snows and ice have thawed.

 

Photo Credit to David Fulmer on Flickr

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