Cold sends shiv­ers down high streets

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Jon Coates Berny Torre

THE FE­RO­CIOUS weather caused a nine per cent fall in the num­ber of shop­pers on Bri­tain’s high streets yes­ter­day.

This was a ma­jor blow for strug­gling re­tail­ers on what is usu­ally the peak trad­ing week­end be­fore Christ­mas.

Many had been hop­ing for a fes­tive boost af­ter a grim year that has seen a string of big names like House of Fraser, Deben­hams and John Lewis strug­gle.

But the freez­ing rain and high winds of Storm Deirdre were blamed for shop­pers stay­ing away de­spite dis­counts of up to 30 per cent be­ing of­fered by some re­tail­ers.

Re­tail in­tel­li­gence ex­perts Spring­board said UK high street foot­fall yes­ter­day was down by more than nine per cent com­pared to the same pe­riod last year.

Over­all foot­fall for shop­ping cen­tres and re­tail parks, com­bined with high streets, was down 7.3 per cent up to 3pm.

Diane Wehrle, Spring­board’s mar­ket­ing and in­sights di­rec­tor, said: “It’s un­for­tu­nate that the weather has come in.

“I think all re­tail­ers are find­ing it re­ally tough, even the ones that are most re­silient and this is not what they need.”

She added that many shop­pers may not ven­ture out next week­end as it is so close to Christ­mas Day, say­ing they could have al­ready trav­elled to wher­ever they are spend­ing the hol­i­days.

Ma­jor tourist at­trac­tion The Eden Project in Corn­wall was also a vic­tim of Storm Deirdre yes­ter­day, hav­ing to close its doors af­ter be­ing flooded.

It of­fered re­funds or ex­changes to any­one who had booked tick­ets for the site in ad­vance.

The Met Of­fice took the un­usual step of is­su­ing “dan­ger to life” warn­ings as of­fi­cials fore­cast freez­ing rain to con­tinue fall­ing on large parts of the UK this morn­ing. It added this rare freez­ing

HIT: Christ­mas shop­pers brave icy weather in Ox­ford Street, Lon­don, yes­ter­day

weather phe­nom­e­non poses a risk of death and in­jury with roads, pave­ments and cy­cle paths be­com­ing in­stantly im­pass­able be­cause of the sud­den for­ma­tion of black ice.

The na­tional weather ser­vice yes­ter­day is­sued six weather warn­ings cov­er­ing al­most the en­tire UK, apart from Lon­don and the South-east, which were still ex­pected to see heavy rain.

Four yel­low warn­ings were is­sued, which fore­cast a “500 mile cur­tain of snow” across the cen­tral belt of the UK.

The Met Of­fice also warned of a “pro­longed” pe­riod of heavy snow in Scot­land and north­ern Eng­land, where up to 15 inches was ex­pected on the high­est peaks. Around seven inches of snow was fore­cast in flat­ter ar­eas, with 1,500 grit­ters be­ing de­ployed. Fore­caster Si­mon Par­tridge said: “If you’re not un­der a snow and ice warn­ing, you’re prob­a­bly un­der a wind and rain warn­ing. The good thing is that Deirdre is ex­pected to clear out the cold air and be­come much milder across the week­end.”

The RAC was ex­pect­ing break­downs to soar to above 7,000 a day, while Net­work Rail of­fi­cials con­firmed there were plans in place to use 34 de-ic­ing trains in or­der to min­imise dis­rup­tion.

The cold snap will ease off by Mon­day al­though book­ies have slashed the odds of a White Christ­mas to 2/7.

ARC­TIC: A driver nav­i­gates dif­fi­cult con­di­tions as snow and freez­ing rain hit in Har­wood in Tees­dale, Co Durham, yes­ter­day

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