Snowfall has economic impact on local businesses

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The historical snowy stretch that hit Southern New England recently is not only effecting transportation and school days — it’s also impacting local companies’ bottom lines.

Many restaurants have had to close down several times over the past few weeks because of snow, and some owners say that their businesses are suffering.

Joshua Miller, owner of Trinity Brewhouse and Local 121 in Providence, says that the recent back-to-back snowstorms have been nothing but bad news for his businesses.

“Every time you close, and we’ve closed about four days so far, you lose money,” he said.

According to a study done last year by IHS Global Insight, the economic cost of a major snowstorm that shuts down Massachusetts for one day is $265 million in the Bay State. In Rhode Island, IHS estimates that the one-day impact is between $15 million and $20 million.

James Gillula, managing director of IHS Economics, said the estimate tries to take into account lost wages for hourly employees and lost business for retailers and eateries, as well as offsetting positive impacts such as higher incomes for snowplow drivers.

Laure White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, said that winter puts a strain on local businesses.

“Businesses are really fed up with winter. It’s been a harsh season. It seems like we’re going to get more snow before the season is over,” she said.

Though some businesses hate winter, others enjoy it. Eric Anderson owns a restoration company in Smithfield and he says that winter days actually bring in more work for him.

“On days like today, the cold weather causes pipes to freeze and we’d be the ones to come out,” Anderson said. “With all this snow and accumulation gathering on roofs, we have tremendous increase of call volume.”

White said that there was more snow in 2013 than this year, but the storms were not back-to-back, and that makes the problem more acute for businesses.

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