PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Talk about a snow job.
With nearly 102 inches of measurable snow falling this season at the airport in Buffalo, N.Y., it would stand to reason that the winter tire inventory would be quite scarce for Buffalo-based Exxpress Tire Delivery.
Quite the contrary.
The executives who help oversee operations of the regional wholesaler say they have about a half a season's worth of winter tires remaining as a result of the quixotic 2022-23 winter season. Sales are down 25% year over year.
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Express Tire President David Simons said three major storms over a cumulative five days — including one that dumped several feet near Christmas — accounted for the majority of that snow total. When the big storm hit, the city shut down, effectively scrubbing any opportunity to sell snow tires to a community ordered to stay home and off the roads.
"Other than those five days, it has been a very mild winter," Simons told Tire Business during a break at the Exxpress Tire Delivery dealer conference, held Feb. 22-26, at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.
"And during those storms, everything is locked down. Don't go anywhere. You can't get out of your driveway. Don't leave, and three days later, it's all cleared up, no big deal. And we've had very little weather in between."
It was so mild that at the golf course that Exxpress Tire's Paul Pittner co-owns near Buffalo, they were taking tee times on Feb. 15.
Buffalo isn't the only snow-challenged area in Exxpress Tire's region.
According to a report on Fox Weather, the top four snowiest large cities are Syracuse, N.Y. (averaging 127.8 inches seasonally); Erie, Pa. (104.3); Rochester, N.Y. (102); and Buffalo (95.4).
Thus far, with winter in its final gasp, Syracuse has had approximately 46 inches of snow; Erie 40 inches; and Rochester 29.9 inches, the third lowest total there in more than 80 years.
"Outside of a couple of crazy storms, … do we suddenly live in Maryland for 80 days and Buffalo for 10?" Simons asked rhetorically.
Pittner, the wholesaler's managing director of procurement and supply chain, said he was hoping to analyze data from winter tires sales this year to figure out how much of an impact all-weather tires have had.
"I have no idea," Pittner said. "This winter didn't give us the information we needed because it's been so bizarre."
It is clear all-weather purchases have taken sales away from the all-season segment, the executives said.
Simons said he believes all-weather tires could be the answer for some consumers in the Vermont-to-Erie, Pa.-region that Exxpress Tire serves.
"If you really want a winter tire, you probably need it," Simons said. "If you aren't sure you are going to need it, maybe these all-weather tires are a better solution for you. We're certainly seeing an uptick in that business."
Strong winter tire sales occur during the days leading up to the storm. Those who live in the North know the drill: Several days before the storm is supposed to hit, weather reports tell of the impending snowfall.
It's the, "Oh my gosh, you can't imagine what's going to happen three days from now," forecast that drives business, Simons said.
"Normally, you continue to have those days through the storm," he said. "But this year, these freak storms literally shut everything down. They were very, very consolidated."
Exxpress Tire will have plenty of inventory heading into the 2023-24 season.
"The year we go low (on orders), that's the year (the snow) is going to hit," Pittner said.
"But we've been saying that now for 12 years."