Epic Snows Cause Economic Woes Across All Industries

Ignore anyone who tells you snow is free. Every work day lost during New England's historic winter has meant millions of dollars taken out of the regional economy.

IHS Global Insight, an economic analysis firm, estimates Massachusetts alone suffered roughly $1 billion in lost wages and profits, as storm after storm pummeled the region, delivering over eight feet of snow in roughly a month.

Retailers and restaurants were among the hardest hit, as customers held off on big purchases or chose to stay at home rather than enjoy a night on the town.

A survey released this week by Massachusetts business groups representing those and other industries reported sales dropped an average of 24 percent and payroll dropped about 7 percent among their small businesses members.

Car dealers and real estate agents complained the poorly-timed storms -- many of which hit on or around weekends -- were disastrous to business. And with the exception of the region's famed ski resorts, many New England hotels, transportation companies and other businesses in the travel and tourism trade say they've struggled too.

"January and February are always tough months for us because people just don't want to travel," said Christopher Crean, a vice president at Peter Pan, a Springfield-based long distance bus company. "But when you add in all the snow and cold and highway closures, that just compounds the injury. It's hard to make a profit."

Manufacturers, meanwhile, report they're just starting to catch up on nearly a month of lost productivity.

During the worst of the storms, assembly lines shut down, work orders were delayed or cancelled outright and treacherous roads and iced-over rail lines hindered transport of finished products.

"Not only were we losing sales on the front end of the storms, now we're paying a lot more on the back end to get product out," says Michael...