March freeze costs SMEs millions

IN: Business news

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout the UK will find themselves shelling out an extra £174 million this year following the unusually prolonged cold weather that lasted throughout March and well into April.

undefinedIf you found yourself shivering away in your business wondering where all of the customers are, you weren't the only one. Almost one in three (30 per cent) of small firms reportedly experienced a loss of demand during the cold snap, while more than a quarter (26 per cent) of respondents said they were forced to close.

All in all, more than half (55 per cent) of survey participants said they have lost out due to the chilly weather, with the average loss standing at £1,580, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Furthermore, 27 per cent claimed they had experienced a staff absence for at least one day during March as a direct result of snow or other cold-related problems. For those who closed or temporarily stopped trading, an average of 2.2 days was lost.

Mike Cherry, national policy chairman at the FSB, said that the challenging times would undoubtedly mean firms will be pleased to turn the corner into spring, with temperatures finally rising in mid-April.

"We may finally have turned a corner into spring, but it's been a long haul, following the coldest March in 100 years," he said.

"While a few businesses have managed to take advantage of the weather many have found it difficult to manage. Not only have they had to cope with a lack of demand for products, but many have had to close."

Mr Cherry asked communities and SMEs to adopt the Keep Trade Local initiative, designed to encourage people to use small businesses in their area rather than resorting to the likes of large corporations.

Companies would also do well to ensure they have a savings account set up for emergency purposes so that they do not suffer too badly from two days of lost trading in similar conditions.

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