As if I have to remind people, it’s cold in Britain right now. It’s been cold for some time, and will continue to be cold for some time to come, well into the New Year. My big worry is how truly prepared businesses are to cope.

When it’s this cold, snow is always a problem. It causes HUGE travel disruption. And when people can’t get around, it means they don’t spend. Shopping centres around the country have reported falls in footfall in their stores, which comes at the worst time of year with Christmas only days away now. Also, companies who take online orders only a few days ago dropped their promises of delivery before Christmas to Scotland due to the weather and their current backlogs. The first cold snap at the end of November and into December was estimated to have cost the UK economy £4.5 billion. Imagine what this one is going to cost if it is to last as long as is forecast!

We’ve had just about all airports closed at some point during the cold weather. The roads become car parks too quickly. People are too quick to call in to work to say they aren’t going in. All this is costing us millions of pounds a day, and it can’t go on. Planes need to fly, trains need to run, and cars and their drivers need to get to their destinations.

Businesses need to look at the upcoming situation and start to plan ahead. Not only do we have the weather going against us for the start of 2011, but we have a rise in VAT on January 4th. The start of the year is always the quietest in terms of leads and sales. Fuel costs are rocketing and the Government cuts start to kick in at this time too. Our industry is facing a perfect storm. 

So what can we do? Well, weather wise do your best to keep your showroom and offices open. Use shovels, keep pathways clear and easy to walk on. Lay grit and rock salt down regularly. We have to make sure we make it’s as easy as possible for our customers to get to us. From a business point of view, every company will be in a different position. Some may have to plan for the worst, some may have to consider how to save money if they do find that revenues start to suffer.

One thing that is certain, we have to get to grips with the situation we are in, adapt, and get back to normal programming. Preferably before the 29th December, I have a plane to catch to New York for New Year and I intend on getting there!