Rough winter causes economy to lose $15 billion

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Several winter storms and frigid temperatures have taken a huge bite out of the economy. 22news found out how this severe weather has hurt some Franklin County businesses.

Below freezing temperatures and frequent snow storms has taken a toll on the nation’s businesses. The economy lost at least $15 billion in retail sales, property damage, and lost productivity so far this season. The constant cold and heavy snow kept a lot of shoppers home.

But not everyone stopped spending because of the weather. They strategized and shopped more efficiently.

Carol Letson told 22News the winter hasn’t stopped her from spending her money. “I have not taken a lot of the trips I wanted to take around the area. But I’ve tried to carpool. I’ve tried to plan my shopping around, when it’s on a good day. I don’t think I’ve changed how I shop because I’ve still spent my money despite the weather.”

Auto sales suffered from the winter weather. The Snow and cold temperatures kept many potential buyers away from showrooms and Car lots. The auto industry saw vehicle and parts sales drop 1.7 billion dollars in January. And Franklin County car dealerships also saw a drop in sales.

The owner of Ford and Toyota in Greenfield told 22news that sales were down by 25% this winter, but the hardest thing to keep up this season was morale. Bob Cartelli said, “When you look out everyday and it’s gray and there’s no traffic and it’s freezing cold, it’s hard to be upbeat. It’s hard to deliver a message to those that come in everyday hoping and counting on business to create a payroll for them.”

The airlines were also hit hard, with more than 50,000 flights canceled and more than 300,000 flights delayed. Economists say the winter impact on the economy will be minimal, expecting sales and production to increase as temperatures rise.