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Retailers battered by high winds and rain

Adverse weather conditions across the UK have hampered sales of spring stock with trade hit by heavy rain and floods.

Over the last month high winds have battered the south west of the country with rainfall causing flooding across counties including Surrey, Berkshire, Somerset and Cornwall.

Robert Harris, owner of Ann’s Cottage Surf Shops, which has nine stores in Cornwall, said a retail complex on Fistral Beach, on which the mini-chain has a store, has suffered more than £1m-worth of damage.

The weather was also putting shoppers off, he added. “We are way down on last year because people are not going out as it’s too dangerous - over the last two weeks we’ve been 30-40% down on last year.”

The high street in Datchet, Berkshire has been flooded with stores including Supernova Bridal and The Outfit Clothing Agency’s premises evacuated.

Melissa Conlon, manager of hire shop Perfectly Groomed Menswear in Datchet, said the store has been closed as the village was “cut off” by the flooding.

“Everyone has moved what they can from stores,” she said. “We’ve just got our fingers crossed it doesn’t get any worse.”

A store manager of a branch of Peacocks in Devon, who did not want to be named, added: “We didn’t actually get flooded but we are completely surrounded by water. Generally the town is quiet because everybody’s been told not to go out so it’s affected all of us. We’ve had extremely high winds and flooding in the area.”

Over the last week the army has been called in to help residents and as Drapers went to press 14 severe flood warnings were in place along the Thames and in Somerset. The Met Office has warned that the severe weather is unlikely to ease until next week.

Paul Hayes, sales director at Cornwall-based womenswear brand Seasalt, said he had sandbags on standby because the majority of its shops were in coastal locations.

However he noted that there was a ray of light shining through the torrential rain. 

“Although this type of weather can really affect footfall for the high street in general, we’ve found lots of people have come to us for our wellies and outerwear, so we’ve been fortunate that the effects have not been too detrimental,” said Hayes. “That said, we’ve been at the heart of many southwest coastal communities for years and our thoughts really go out to everyone who’s been affected by the storms.”

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