Business Impact of Blizzaster 2010

As we are digging out from what I am attempting to coin "Blizzaster 2010" (in response to the East Coast's "Snowmageddon"/"Snowpocalypse" looks like some people thought of it before us) I thought it would be interesting to consider the economic impact of winter weather.

What seems to be the bigger story of the weekend is the collapse of the Metrodome which, according the the Star Tribune, "ultimately could cost the Vikings millions in lost revenue. An estimated 64,000 ticket holders were expected at Sunday's game. With season ticket holders paying $30 to $150 a ticket and more money at the concession stand, potential losses could be high."

"I don't see this as being cataclysmic," David Brennan, co-director of the Institute for Retail at the University of St. Thomas told the Star Tribune. "If this was next weekend, it would be a serious, serious blow to retailers."

More generally, there were quite a few stories about economic factors during the previous Snowmageddon. Excerpting from ABC news:

Experts say storms are ultimately a net negative for taxpayers, who foot the bill for snow cleanup and the lost productivity of thousands of employees. But some businesses and retailers are cheering the snowstorms for helping their bottom lines. Obvious booming businesses salt and deicing suppliers. Grocery store chains, hardware stores, and plow owners are having an economic boom while the rest of the country struggles.

The bigger issue with this storm is that it hit on a weekend--with only two weeks left until Christmas. I'm assuming retailers didn't have a busy Saturday. WCCO reported, "Cleaning trumped customer service at many stores, but not by choice. There weren’t many customers to serve. Those who did venture out were treated to short lines and great customer service." Watch Video

Still, according to data collected in the ninth annual The University of St. Thomas Holiday Spending Sentiment Survey household spending for holiday gifts is predicted to be 6.8 percent more in the Twin Cities this year than in 2009. I used my time stuck in the house to finish most of my Christmas shopping online.

Again from ABC: "You sell a lot more snow throwers, there's a run on the grocery stores right before a storm, but frankly, who's going to be shopping at Talbot's [in a storm]? Nobody," said Scott Bernhardt, chief operating officer of Planalytics, a company that studies the economic impact of storms. At least business is up for companies that study the economic impact of storms.

"Retailers still expect a last-minute rush at stores in the coming days," reported WCCO, "the problem is, they just don’t know when to expect it.  Maybe it will be today--a number of school districts are closed and parents might take the day off to take their kids to the mall.

I'm sure there were a few budding entrepreneurs who tried to cash in on this weekend's snow - charging neighbors to plow their sidewalks, but my guess is there were more who took to the spirit of the season and were just plain Minnesota nice and helped a neighbor out because it is the right thing to do.