Blizzard cost area businesses millions

February 7, 2011 2:58:58 PM PST
Many Chicago-area businesses took a big hit when consumers were trapped at home by more than 20 inches of snow last week.

Bana's beauty salon is just one of the businesses left financially impacted by the Blizzard of 2011.

"We lost clients. We had to completely close down Tuesday night because people weren't coming in for their appointments," said Ana Kuqo, Bana's.

Like the Northwest Side shop, tens of thousands of other establishments had to shut down on the days before, during and after the storm.

Retail consultant John Melaniphy says the result is the loss of millions of dollars in revenue for just one of those days.

"In the city of Chicago, I estimated that that one-day loss was between 55 and $60 million in the city. If we take the entire metropolitan area, it was between $260 million and $300 million," said Melaniphy.

Melaniphy's figures are based on yearly spending reports and show lost revenue at most consumer-driven businesses, especially restaurants which experts say likely incurred $13 million of losses in a single day in Chicago and $33 million to $36 million in the metro area.

That's a concern for the owners of Duke's. After roughly 30 years in business, Katherine Bergman says she's probably never going to recoup losses from the blizzard.

"If it's not there, it's not there. It's a loss for the day," said Bergman.

For other categories like auto sales and the hospitality industry, because of the weak economy, the blizzard almost added insult to injury.

"If this had happened the week before Christmas, it would have been devastating. For it to happen in the middle of January/February when retail is normally a little slower proved to be a blessing," said John Chikow, Greater North Michigan Avenue Association.

Plow driver Michael Powell is happy about cleaning up after all the snow.

"Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. More business for me," said Powell.

Grocery stores and hardware stores also made out well during the storms.