By BEN WOODS
, Business writer
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Norfolk’s deluge of snow could have a “far-reaching” impact on the local economy, according to the county’s chamber of trade.
Caroline Williams, the chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce believes the extreme weather will have affected “productivity and profitability” – but the damage will only become apparent in the months ahead.
Mrs Williams said road blockages were likely to have delayed delivery drivers, while retailers may have suffered.
But Stefan Gurney, director of the Norwich Business Improvement District, said some city-centre businesses benefited from people staying in Norwich to have a meal rather than risk driving.
Mrs Williams said: “Despite the best efforts of the local authorities, infrastructure has been severely affected.
“As a rural county, Norfolk relies on its road networks and when they become difficult to navigate, business in general suffers: hauliers and bus operators are unable to deliver their services on time, if at all; commuters struggle to access their places of work; and retailers suffer through lack of customers.
“Many businesses have reported that not all of their employees have made it into work, others have advised that they will be closing early to allow their employees to return home safely.
“The financial impact may not be seen for some time, however when the quarterly economic surveys are compiled, the results are likely to show a reduction on product-ivity and profitability, as a result of Norfolk businesses struggling to cope with the extreme weather conditions.”
Meanwhile, Mr Gurney added: “A lot of people stayed in the city because there was no point in trying to make the journey home. “People were aware that if you made the journey after work you would just be sitting in the car, so some people chose to stay in the city and have a drink or go for a meal.”