Those who have been paying attention across the country have probably seen the headlines that Boston and most of Eastern Massachusetts were positively pummeled with snow this winter. With accumulation reaching as high as 100 inches in some parts of the state, experts have estimated that the local economy lost billions as people couldn’t get to work and were reticent to leave the house for just about any reason.
In all, small businesses across the Bay State say that they saw their sales losses mount to about 24 percent of what they would have normally expected to see over the four-week period of Jan. 26 to Feb. 22, according to a survey from the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. However, it should come as no surprise that this kind of change would impact some industries more than others, but it seems as though restaurants and retail stores in particular have been hit hardest, with sales there dropping some 49 percent on average.
This came at the same time that companies did see reduced payroll, but the losses generally outstripped the savings by significant amounts, the report said. While the average business saw its payroll costs decline 7 percent, and 14 percent for those in the restaurant industry, it seems that many small business owners were more concerned with making sure their employees were getting paid than simply protecting their bottom lines.
Other issues arise
Another problem many entrepreneurs faced during this time, though, is that even as their payroll costs dropped off, other expenses cropped up, the report said. Many also had to pay for snow and ice removal services to make sure their parking lots and sidewalks were safe for would-be customers, and given the demand, this often came at significant cost.
“While the survey clearly states the loss of sales, an additional factor impacting business operators was the extremely sharp increase in operating costs, specifically in the areas of snow plowing and removal in parking lots, roof clearing and the cost of heating as a result of the second coldest February on record,” said Bob Luz, president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.
While winter weather obviously isn’t an area of concern for owners in every part of the country, this should serve as a good reminder that unexpected issues can arise at any time. Consequently, it might be wise for entrepreneurs to shore up their bottom lines, such as by finding more affordable small business insurance, to potentially save thousands of dollars annually.