Extreme Cold Impacts Businesses

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

"There is a weather effect here, and it's not positive." -Tom Scott, Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing for the Michigan Retailers Association

Many local businesses are getting burned by these extremely cold temperatures, as a lot of customers just stay home.

But other businesses are jumping with people looking for help with the winter weather.

When temperatures are below freezing, the frozen yogurt business isn't very hot.

"We have kind of a lull in customers," Sugar Berry manager Leti Sanchez said.

The location near the Frandor shopping center has been closing an hour earlier, and some days it hasn't opened at all because of the weather. For now they're offering discounts and counting on the regulars. Some days get pretty busy, other times the store can go for hours without seeing a customer.

"We have some people that come in every day for lunch," Sanchez said. "It depends on whether the sun's out or not, too."

One benefit when it's this frozen outside is that the yogurt stays more frozen, but these temperatures can freeze up other businesses all together.

"We're ready, definitely ready for that January thaw," Ultra Clean Car Wash owner Keith Bailey said.

Fewer cars are coming through and the heating bill is through the roof at Ultra Clean to keep the water and pipes from freezing, and the wind makes it even tougher.

"Blowing all our heat right on through the building, but it's also blowing all the water through, and that's when we don't like it, because we're getting wet and the cold's coming through," Bailey said.

The cold has been hurting businesses statewide since the holidays. The Michigan Retailers Association said December sales were disappointing and January isn't looking much better.

"There is a weather effect here, and it's not positive," Tom Scott, Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing for the Michigan Retailers Association, said.

But for some, it is very positive.

"Last year to this year's sales, we're up over 150 percent," ACO Hardware store manager Evelyn Chambers said.

The ACO in Frandor and similar stores can't keep winter products on the shelves, like salt, shovels, and car brushes. The store's winter selection is usually at least two aisles, and only a small shelf remains.

"They come in and they go, they come in and they go," Chambers said.

The store had 12 snow shovels come in Monday, and there were only seven left by 5:00 p.m. Chambers expected them to sell out by closing time. She said the suppliers just can't keep up with demand.

While that's a good problem to have at ACO, the retailers association said there might be some light at the end of the tunnel for the other businesses that are hurting. Scott said with so much less spending this winter, he thinks consumers might have some pent up shopping energy and more savings when spring rolls around. It might mean a boost in sales after things warm up a little.

The retailers association just issued a survey to business owners, and the results showed they're very optimistic about the next three months. They're predicting better sales than this time last year.


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