The Surprising Impact Daylight Savings Time (DST) Has On Business
“Spring forward, fall back” – The old adage that is supposed to help you work out which direction to turn your clocks when daylight savings starts and ends. Most of us are excited when we get to put the clocks forward as it means summer is coming! Woohoo! Longer sunlight hours, BBQs with friends and family, walks on the beach with the dog, cricket season, tending to the vege patch while it is still light out, and of course, getting some much-needed vitamin D that the Wellington winter has robbed you of.
What you might not know is that flicking the clock forward raises a number of things to be aware of with regards to your business. We thought it would be a great time to go over the impact daylight savings could have on your bottom line.
THE GOOD NEWS: One of the popular arguments promoted by business groups is that DST helps stimulate consumer spending. There are mixed reviews about this ‘fact’ and as far as we are aware, no substantial research around Kiwi spending habits during daylight savings time has been done in New Zealand. A new study out from JPMorgan Chase Institute in the US did find that the switch to DST time is associated with an increase in spending between 2.2% and 4.9%, depending on where you live. So that could be good news for NZ business as it would indicate that people are getting out and about and supporting local shops, bars and, restaurants as they enjoy the longer daylight hours.
THE BAD NEWS: It is well documented that shifting those clocks forward causes sleep disturbances. This is going to be exacerbated for your employees with young children who will likely have trouble going to sleep and/or waking up at the new time. This ultimately results in productivity losses – which no business wants!
David Wagner and Christopher Barnes, professors of management at the University of Oregon and the University of Washington, found “workers tend to ‘cyber loaf,’” and use computers for non-work purposes. Another US study estimated a national productivity loss of nearly $434 million – just from fiddling with the clocks! Wagner and Barnes say we don’t regain lost productivity in the fall when time shifts back either, as it takes up to 3 weeks for someone to hit a normal rhythm.
THE UGLY NEWS: Unfortunately it is a well-documented fact that Daylight Saving time brings a rise in the number of heart attacks. Yes, a 5% – 10% increase according to Swedish and US researchers.
An article published on the Business Insider site explains:
“The impacts of DST are likely related to our body’s internal circadian rhythm, the still-slightly-mysterious molecular cycles that regulate when we feel awake and when we feel sleepy, as well as our hunger and hormone production schedules…. The problems with DST are the worst in the spring when we’ve all just lost one hour of sleep. The sun rises later, making it more difficult to wake in the morning. This is because we reset our natural clocks using the light. When out of nowhere (at least to our bodies) these cues change, it causes major confusion. Like anytime you lose sleep, springing forward causes decreases in performance, concentration, and memory common to sleep-deprived individuals, as well as fatigue and daytime sleepiness”.
On a sunnier note (sunny – ha – see what I did there. Pun intended!), the number of car accidents during DST goes down and the U.S. Department of Transportation has said that daylight saving time has a lowering effect on crime rates because many crimes tend to occur in the dark.
So if DST doesn’t actually save energy, or improve productivity, why do we have it? We are interested to hear your thoughts. How do you find daylight savings affects you/ your business?
If you have noticed major peaks and troughs throughout your financial year we are available to take a gander at your numbers and come up with financial solutions to both mitigate the negative effects of DST and capitalise on the positive ones.