If the 2014-2015 winter season turns out to be mild, distributors can save whatever ice melt they have in stock for next year.

Banner Systems has experienced years when five tractor-trailer loads never left the freight yard. Others, too, have had excess inventory.

“We definitely have had mild winters with pallets and pallets of ice melt left over,” Josephs says. “We’re good to go the following year, there’s nothing wrong with the product.”

One possible concern regarding storage is moisture. Calcium chloride ice melt absorbs water and needs to be kept it in a dry area. Moisture is less of a concern with bags and 50-pound pails, Channell says.

Despite the ease of storage and a possibility of an ice melt shortage, distributors are hesitant to purchase an abundance of product. Storage space in their warehouses is often at a premium.

“We would rather not have enough to sell toward the end of the season, than to be left with a truckload or two of ice melt sitting in our warehouse for the whole summer,” says Josephs.

Ice melt sitting in the warehouse during the summer means it’s taking up valuable warehouse space that could be used for products that will actually be in demand.

For example, at a Hills & Markes warehouse in Amsterdam, New York, ice cream cones swiftly take the place of ice melt in summer, says Andrea Packer, an owner and vice president of marketing for the company.

Spruce Industries plans to stock enough ice melt for the first couple months of winter. After January, it’s a judgment call. If it’s been an icy season, more ice melt will be brought in.

“If it’s a mild December we sort of play it by ear,” says Josephs.

Overall, the goal at Hill & Markes Inc. is to keep ice melt coming in and going out as quick as possible. With winter approaching sooner than some people realize, Packer says, “You don’t want to cut yourself short. Even if you have weekly orders placed, if the weather’s bad, they may not come in on time.”

Rebecca Kanable is a freelance writer based in Milton, Wisconsin.

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Forecasting Ice Melt Pre-Orders After A Harsh Winter