Winter’s lackluster performance may be causing the ski industry headaches, but for a much larger economic segment – storefront and chain businesses – the warm weather is extending their outdoor seasons. Helping to maximize the seasonably warm winter weather are commercial awnings and canopies, providing the ideal level of protection from the still-cool (but not too frigid) weather.
So maybe this year’s winter didn’t get the October memo. If that’s the case, then here’s a midseason reminder: “Attention, Winter: After several weeks of what should have been slowly falling temperatures across the United States, and a declining sun angle, the season that follows autumn is winter –typically the coldest part of the year.”
Sounds straightforward enough, right? Well, despite that plainness of message, it seems that Old Man Winter’s heart just isn’t into this season’s would-be chill. From Los Angeles to Minneapolis to Atlanta and New York, city after city, town after town, almost without exception, continues to shatter winter warmth records. Ice fishing on Minnesota lakes is risky business, grass is green (and not white) from Montana to Mississippi, and about half of January’s days in Los Angeles were beach day pleasant at a time of year when the City of Angels can be downright gloomy and soggy.
To be sure, all this relative warmth is causing ski resort operators and winter weather diehards from the Rockies to the Blue Ridge (and everywhere else) to cry foul, but for other businesses, namely those brick-and-mortar storefronts that rely heavily on pedestrian foot traffic and commercial awnings and canopies to shield their customers from the elements, are the furthest from singing the wintertime blues.
Canopies and awnings are an ideal way for a business to extend their much-coveted commercial footprint without having to apply for onerous local zoning board extensions and bureaucratic certificates of approval. A simple retractable or fixed commercial shade structure provides essential covering, and protects both a store’s retail product – be it outdoor tables, clothing or apparel stands – as well as their patrons from bad weather. In colder and snowier winters, fabric awnings might not withstand a substantial snow load, causing an awning’s or canopy’s metal extension arms to buckle under the weight of the snow. Ice, too, has an uncanny ability to coat everything it touches. On power lines, for instance, just one quarter of an inch of ice accretion can add some 500 lbs! (Think about that the next time your home or your business’s power goes out.)
Instead, a warm winter means more liquid rain has fallen - a form of precipitation that is a match made in heaven for awnings and canopies, which are well-equipped to protect entryways and pedestrians from getting wet. Then, there’s the temperature side of the equation. With January coming in as one of our country’s warmest on record, more people have been outside walking and enjoying their local downtown neighborhoods. While it’s generally well-known that in summer, awnings and canopies can lower sidewalk temperatures by as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the reverse effect is true during cooler times of the year. Business awnings help trap surface heat generated from both customers and, if relied on, outdoor propane heaters. The combination of natural human body heat with artificial heaters and awnings and canopies can similarly raise storefront temperatures in midwinter. While it may still not be balmy outside, for most parts of the country, an extra 20 degrees of winter warmth makes outdoor shopping and even dining a possibility.
So in terms of cold, snow, skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing, winter 2012 may be on its way to receiving a failing report card. But from the perspective of canopy and awnings-dependent business owners, the last few months’ winter weather has been an A-plus effort.
This article has been written by an expert associated with Academy Inc., a Los Angeles based manufacturer and designer of commercial shade structures, such as commercial awnings and canopies. Academy Inc. is a leading supplier of business awnings and canopies, perfect restaurants, retail shops, and hotels. Academy Inc. is a fully licensed and insured company that has built a great reputation by combining quality products with unparalleled customer service.