By Joe Mathieu, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) – This winter could not end soon enough. And not only because we don’t want to shovel any more.

It’s because the weather is hurting our economy.

We’ve heard a lot about the strain on local budgets thanks mainly to snow removal, but there are far more significant effects on our economy.

Just look at what’s happened to the retail business. Sales at stores around the country fell unexpectedly in January and the Commerce Department blames unusually cold and snowy weather which hurt auto sales and restaurants that depend on foot traffic.

The Federal Reserve surveyed local businesses over the past month and also found weak conditions at staffing services because of all the snow. They just aren’t getting calls like they normally do.

Even some New England-based manufacturers blame the weather, thanks to several days of lost productivity and lower demand from factories in other parts of the country that also got a lot of snow.

A drop in construction, for instance, meant less demand for building supplies.

We hear these kinds of stories from almost every industry.

But there may be light at the end of the tunnel as businesses gear up for a rebound. Staffing agencies, for instance, tell the Fed that growth will accelerate as the weather improves in the coming months.

Retailers see foot traffic improving.

And at least some manufacturers say they’re already building inventories on the assumption that lower winter sales would lead to higher demand next quarter to make up for it.

Interesting to note one industry around here that’s actually benefitted from the weather.

Hospitality. Hotels.

After all, people need somewhere to stay when they’re stranded by snow.

Follow Joe on Twitter @joemathieuwbz



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