I vowed to be positive and upbeat at the start of this year, but I feel as though someone on a higher plane is doing his or her utmost to knock me down.
April's warm weather took everyone by surprise. Following last year's cold spring I was well prepared with lots of nice sweats and hoodies, but as usual the weather had other ideas. After a quick turnaround on the sales floor, we were full of shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops.
With relatively good bank holiday trading and two more on the horizon, things were looking positive - then May arrived. With rain, bitter winds, rain and, oh yes, more rain, everything is back to the joys of February and March when we play spot the customer.
I'm sure many of you reading this may think we are based in a small town where we can rely on regular customers who like to spend time with us while selecting their purchases, before leaving with a couple of bulging carrier bags. But we are actually located in a major city centre, where business has recently been decimated by a new retail scheme that is still three years from completion. This so-called 'boost to Cardiff's retail future' has lost us more than 900 parking spaces, with no replacement park and ride. It has turned the city centre into a dusty desert environment one day and a dirty muddy mess the next, depending on the weather.
Within 35 minutes' drive we have three out-of-town shopping centres with enough retail choice to satisfy almost everyone. They have cafes galore and offer unlimited free parking.
Shoppers in the area that want to pop out to buy some new clothes have two choices. They can drive into Cardiff and spend up to half an hour trying to find a parking space, then struggle through the dust and dirt to the shops before returning to the car park to pay more than £10 for the privilege.
Alternatively, they can drive to one of the shopping centres, park easily and for free, then stroll no more then 50 yards to a good selection of shops in a clean, safe environment. I know where I'd go.
In the past three days, one of Cardiff's most high-profile fashion independents has gone into liquidation, another has let four staff members go and given part of its retail space back to the landlord. Meanwhile, a local fashion footwear specialist told me he is downsizing by losing one of his shops because things are so tough.
I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to eat my words from earlier in the year because I just cannot understand how anyone can feel positive at the moment.
- Mark Hale is the owner of menswear retailer Chessmen in Cardiff.