Retail Severe Weather Response Planning

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Taking a proactive approach in planning for and responding to extreme weather volatility will help protect any business’s reputation and long-term growth potential. That said, a common concern in the retail and hospitality industry is how to effectively maintain operations in the face of a severe weather event. Better known as the “Last to Close/First to Open” challenge, the need to minimize business disruptions in the event of severe weather highlights the complex financial, logistical and reputational challenges faced by retail establishments in detail have to deal with.

In fact, the risk of claims financial loss due to an extreme weather event has never been higher. According harvard business review, “Each year, climate variability is estimated at $630 billion for the United States alone, or 3.5% of gross domestic product (GDP).” The frequency and intensity with which the United States experiences severe storms underscores the urgent need to prepare and train for these types of emergencies.

Management teams at retail establishments such as restaurants, grocery stores, or general merchandise retailers need to be armed with advanced weather forecasts and real-time, site-specific weather intelligence to ensure the weather does not meet their expectations. cause no potential problems. Suppose a retail business does indeed need to temporarily adjust its mode of operation or close due to adverse weather conditions. In this case, proper emergency preparedness planning can be the key to successfully weathering any number of storms.

Successfully implementing weather risk management practices in the retail industry starts with understanding your biggest risks and using technology to shore up weaknesses in your emergency weather strategies. . To help retailers prepare for extreme weather conditions, here are our top five tips.

1. Get the right information the first time

There is a common misconception that free, publicly available weather services are enough. National alerts from publicly available weather services are not useful to a location-specific business when they relate to an entire country (or significant parts of it). The local TV weather forecaster cannot assess what an impending storm means for your business, nor can the wide variety of free online weather sites or phone apps predict or understand the specific risks involved.

Commercial weather systems need to quickly deliver accurate, actionable, and clutter-free information to executives. These services make it easy to plan events that you might not consider until it’s too late. They will engage with your management team to fully understand your risks and sensitivities; the right ones will tailor their expertise to fully integrate with your business.

Advanced weather platforms provide more information than, say, the probability of a thunderstorm – they provide details of damaging winds, hail sizes and tornadoes as well as How? ‘Or’ What and when the weather will affect your location. This way, you can effectively and efficiently prepare for the specific threat with the least disruption to operations.

2. Know your vulnerabilities

Preparing for inclement weather takes awareness, planning and action. It is essential for store owners to understand the biggest threats in order to prioritize them and assess how they can be minimized. This is where a comprehensive risk assessment comes in, as it identifies, analyzes and controls the most dangerous weather hazards.

Do you have a flat roof that is prone to collapse due to heavy rain, snow or sleet? Is your store near water that could cause flooding? Are your stores surrounded by trees that could fall on a power line? Do your employees live in vulnerable areas prone to flooding or landslides? And what are the chances that your suppliers and supply chain won’t be able to meet their commitments in bad weather?

Access geo-specific studies and climatology reports that confirm the greatest weather-related risks where a business operates. Have a good grasp of when an emergency response should be triggered by securing historical data around forecasts and results. Once the risk assessment is complete, your business will be better equipped for an objective response to severe weather events.

3. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

In addition to determining the most relevant weather-related risks for a retail establishment, conducting a business impact analysis is essential to prepare for extreme weather conditions. Assessing specific vulnerabilities in the context of these risks helps identify potential operational disruptions with the greatest financial fallout.

As part of your broader business intelligence efforts, this analysis will help you quantify potential impacts in three key areas, including revenue delays or loss, increased expenses, and customer dissatisfaction. A standard BIA involves setting up the project, collecting data, analyzing the data, preparing the report, and working with key personnel to implement the recommendations.

4. Develop a business response plan

Assigning at least one designated emergency coordinator or safety captain to each physical location can improve accountability in developing, implementing, and training the team on an effective response plan. Based on the specific risks that have been identified and prioritized, a response plan should document the geocentric preparations to be undertaken each month or season.

These include purchasing emergency supplies, renewing services from business continuity providers, or checking with facility managers to ensure the structural integrity of a company’s physical building – in the face of unforeseen events. predicted and unpredicted weather.

For example, emergency kits should contain safety lights, work gloves, emergency blankets and other hurricane essentials along the Gulf Coast. Blizzard survival kits at restaurants in the Midwest will likely include batteries, rock salt, extra clothes, towels and blankets.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Communication is key during any severe weather event. Maintain constant communication with your associates by setting up multiple communication channels, such as landline, cell phone, internet, two-way radio, and third-party mass notification systems.

Additionally, to effectively share needed information, review your lists of emergency phone numbers, including vendors, utility companies, and team members in other locations. The location of local service providers will also help keep the response plan and recovery period on track.

Additionally, consider communicating any weather-related issues, including property damage, closures or reopenings via social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This helps support and nurture customer and supplier relationships with transparent, authentic, real-time messaging – and open a forum to address questions and concerns.

A data-driven approach to extreme weather preparedness

The unpredictable nature of Mother Nature can never be fully understood, let alone controlled. Technology, however, helps us better protect our businesses. The best way to prepare for a weather disaster, mitigate risk to your business and ensure safety is to use advanced weather intelligence to understand the risks the weather and environment pose to your store – and how to avoid them.

Floods, winter storms and tornadoes don’t have to be the cause of business failure if a comprehensive all-hazards emergency preparedness plan is in place. As a national and global community, the more we learn, the better able we are to deal with weather-related challenges in our retail businesses. When they work well, we all benefit from stable supply chains, wherever we are.


Staci Saint-Preux is Industry Manager at StormGeo. Within the sales team, she plays a crucial role in serving current and potential customers in the retail, hospitality and healthcare sectors. Prior to her time at StormGeo, Saint-Preux worked as a flight planner and meteorologist for a private aviation company in Houston. With a degree and background in meteorology, she understands the importance of accurate weather data and forecasts and knows the value of having a team of weather experts by your side.

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