NYC Economy Lost $200M From Fizzled Storm, Transit Shutdown

NEW YORK (AP) -

New York City lost about $200 million in economic activity in the fizzled snow storm and decision to shut down the transit system, but it wasn’t a crippling loss, according to a preliminary estimate from Moody’s Analytics.

Consumers who would have otherwise bought cars or made other major purchases will likely do so a day or two later, Moody’s economist Adam Kamins said. And he noted that many employees forced to stay home Tuesday were able to telecommute.

“For example, a holiday where people aren’t working would have a greater impact on the economic output than this storm,” Kamins said.

Evan Gold, senior vice president for Planalytics, a firm that advises companies on weather issues, estimated the economic losses for the total Northeast, including New York, Philadelphia and Boston, at $500 million.

“Now that does sound like a lot of money, but when you think about last year, where we had a polar vortex, several weeks of that, more population centers impacted as well as above-normal snowfall, last year’s overall economic impact is pegged at anywhere from $15 billion to $50 billion,” he said. “So in comparison, this is actually a relatively small event.”

In New York, the biggest impact was on small businesses and hourly workers who rely on tips, such as taxi drivers and restaurant workers.

For them, the lost work time stung. Lenice Ferguson, a baker at Insomnia Cookies said the shop is usually open until about 3 a.m. making deliveries. The bakery closed at about 10 p.m. Monday.

“It’s a big deal, because I only work three nights out of the week,” the 26-year-old said. “My check is going to be short, and I have bills that I have to pay.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the economic loss was much less than it would have been had the storm hit in full force, and that taking precautions helped the city get back online faster.

He said city officials learned from the December 2010 storm, when the city was paralyzed by 2 feet of snow. The blizzard cost the city more than $70 million, but the economic impact to retailers was considerably more.

Shaon Chowdhury, a manager of Arthur Cab Leasing Corp., in Queens, said he didn’t have a problem with the city’s actions even though he lost about $60,000 in revenue and expenses.

“If they did get 28 inches it would be a problem, so shutting down is a good idea,” he said.

New York City’s 24,000 restaurants probably lost millions in revenue in total, said Chris Hickey, regional director of New York City for the New York State Restaurant Association. A lot of people canceled reservations on Monday night, and many restaurants closed early because of travel bans. Plus, parties and business events were canceled or postponed, which also impacts catering vendors and delivery drivers.