Belfast Telegraph

Snow to melt high street sales as retailers brace for more pain

Experts believe that heavy snowfall represents ‘disaster’ for bricks and mortar retailers.

The beleaguered high street is braced for more pain amid warnings of a retail “disaster” as extreme weather across Britain keeps people away from shops.

Experts believe that heavy snowfall bringing parts of Britain to a standstill will hit bricks and mortar retailers hard as shoppers switch online instead.

Phil Dorrell, managing partner of retail remedy, said: “It will be bad for the high street. Anything that takes footfall away from shops reduces spend, and pushes spend towards the internet.

“In the short term, it’s very much a disaster. If you go down to the nearest road you will see that traffic is significantly less than it was previously, so most parts of retail will be hurting at this point.”

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Toys R Us

The warning comes after a “Black Wednesday” for the high street, when ToysRUs and Maplin crashed into administration, jeopardising over 5,000 jobs.

New Look and Prezzo are among other high street firms looking to close stores after Byron and Jamie’s Italian shut dozens of outlets earlier this year.

Once factoring in the impact of rising inflation, paltry wage growth and signs that consumers are tightening their belts, Mr Dorrell said “it was adding up to be a grim first quarter” for retailers.

“2008/09 was tragic. It was awful for the high street, simply because consumer spending had gone and the lack of disposable income is a complete killer on the high street.

“Shops on the high street were cutting jobs and not many customers were going in.

“The 2008/09 was harsher. Now, is not the bleakest time for the high street, but it is not far off,” he said.

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Winter weather Feb 28th 2018

Philip Shaw, economist at Investec, said “in principle” the torrid weather conditions could harm retail sales, but he believes the impact would be small.

While he ruled out the possibility of the Beast From The East dragging on Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth, he said it could have an impact on industrial production data.

He said: “What you do tend to see is industrial production is put under upward pressure because people use more natural resources to produce electricity. Gas output rises as well.”

Another day of sub-zero temperatures, gale-force icy winds and blizzard-like conditions is expected as Storm Emma sweeps in from the Atlantic on the tail of the Beast From The East’s chilly blast.

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