The early part of 2018 has already seen some truly significant meetings. Whether it be the controversial summit between US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or a historical handshake between representatives from both North and South Korea, the last few months have certainly been noteworthy. However, there has been one meeting that has dominated the news over the past week or so, the meeting of the Beast from the East and Storm Emma.
Bringing with it the UK’s worst weather for years; blizzards, snow drifts, strong winds and bitterly cold temperatures prompted the Met Office to issue Red Warnings in some parts of the country. With many schools, hospitals and roads forced to close, city centres became reminiscent of tundra rather than towns.
With such disruption it is easy to assume that bad weather is detrimental to the economy. Analysts predict that March’s icy blast cost the UK £1bn a day, potentially halving GDP growth for the first quarter of 2018. Such extreme weather is likely to have had the most considerable impact on the construction industry as sub-zero temperatures force workers to down tools. The industry body has noted that the sector could well struggle to make up for lost time as severe weather can delay projects permanently. Likewise, rail companies expect to lose millions of pounds as passengers scrap planned journeys, rather than rescheduling them for another time.
It is an obvious assumption that heavy snow can also preclude many workers from getting to their jobs, with retailers also left counting the cost. The Centre of Economics and Business Research has suggested that although the phenomena of internet shopping and working from home have grown significantly over recent years, general output would still fall 20% over the period. It seems that a weather forecaster could be just as important as an economic forecaster if a business is not to be left out in the cold this winter.
Shoppers Left In The Cold first appeared in the Cumberland Place Newsletter for March 2018. Click here to view a PDF version.