The big freeze cost Scotland’s small firms more than £716 million, it was revealed this week.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the UK lost £7 billion because of the January whiteout that brought much of the country to a standstill.
According to research by the Bank of Scotland Commercial, nearly seven out of 10 businesses (68%) were affected by the coldest winter in decades.
More than a third (35%) of SMEs were forced to close or were cut off by snow, while 42% suffered because supply channels and delivery routes were disrupted.
A quarter of businesses (27%) were forced to close for at least a day, while 16% had to close for an entire working week.
Only a fifth of businesses (22%) were unaffected by the freeze — 10% of firms said they had prospered.
The disruption caused by the harsh winter has had a direct financial impact on the bottom line for 63% of Scotland’s SMEs.
More than a third (35%) claim to have taken a hit of up to £10,000; one in six (16%) estimates the cost to have been somewhere between £10,000 and £30,000; and one in 16 (6%) believes the cost could be more than £30,000.
The additional cost cmes at a time when 28% of Scotland’s SMEs have reported contraction in the last financial year.
Donald Kerr, head of commercial banking for Bank of Scotland, said, “Scotland’s businesses have faced a double blow over the past few months.
“They have had to grapple with the downturn in trade as a result of the recession, as well as the impact of the severe weather. The combined impact of both the recession and winter will inevitably have caused cashflow problems for many firms.
“Whilst it is almost impossible to prevent the impact of severe weather on the day-to-day running of a business, there are steps firms can take to get back on their feet quickly and ensure that their business does not suffer long-term damage from any short-term financial loss.
“Most importantly, businesses need to let their cutomers know that they are open. If travel is impossible due to the adverse weather, online banking can help businesses keep on top of their finances.
“Investing in the appropriate technology can also help businesses enable their staff to work remotely when required.”
Alan Mitchell, chief executive of Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, said it was difficult to gauge exactly how businesses will have been affected.
He said, “The conditions in Dundee perhaps weren’t as bad as other parts of the country … so businesses might not have been affected to quite the same degree.
“These things are very difficult to quantify. Some losses might be made up because people deferred purchases while other costs might take some time to come through.
“Everyone has been talking about potholes, and the effect that has on cars and delivery vans isn’t known yet.”