2014 Heatwave Business Impacts, City of Melbourne, Australia

The City of Melbourne officials commissioned this report on the impact of the 2014 heatwave on businesses as part of the city’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. The study is based on over 600 telephone interviews with business owners conducted about a month after the heatwave.

A majority of businesses report perceived negative impacts of the four-day heatwave with an estimated loss in revenue of $37 million and an overall decline in revenue of about 10 percent. The heatwave most affected retail, food and beverage, and accommodation sectors. Approximately one third of businesses in Melbourne reported a perceived negative impact of the January heatwave on the value of their sales of goods or services and the amount of management time taken up by heatwave issues. Respondents also reported decreased efficiency and operational performance.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • 57% of businesses expect an increase in the frequency and severity of heatwaves in Melbourne over the next 20 years to negatively affect their businesses
  • 52% of businesses are very or fairly concerned about the potential impacts on their businesses
  • 59% of businesses reported a negative impact on the comfort, motivation, or moral of their workforce during the heatwave
  • 40% of businesses reported a negative impact on the reliability of their workforce during the heatwave
  • 36% of businesses reported a negative impact on the health and safety of their workforce
  • 62% of businesses experienced additional operational costs (such as increased air-conditioning use)
  • 7% of businesses reported air-conditioning failures.1 

The report also includes a discussion of the different actions that businesses took to adapt to the 2014 heatwave, example actions included:

  • allowing for earlier start or end times for employees or changing operating hours
  • purchasing cold food or beverages
  • purchasing or increasing usage of fans or air conditioning
  • closing doors or blinds or turning off lights
  • relaxing staff attire requirements
  • moving to temporary work locations
  • adjusting staff working conditions
  • changing business operations and procedures
  • taking on additional staff during heatwave

Publication Date: March 24, 2014

Related Organizations:

  • City of Melbourne, Australia


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment


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