Government measures to help those affected by flooding have been applauded by the fashion industry, as more wet weather is forecast for the week ahead.
Heavy rain over the past month has caused flooding in many areas of the UK, but Prime Minister David Cameron this week unveiled a package of support to help get affected businesses back on their feet.
A £10m scheme will provide hardship funding for small and medium-sized businesses that have been flooded or suffered significant loss of trade due to the weather.
Affected businesses can also get full business rate relief for three months, while a £5,000 “repair and renew” grant will be available for businesses to prepare for future floods.
Cameron said: “Dealing with these floods will be a long haul, requiring a stepped-up national effort.
“We will continue to help the people who need help and protect the communities that need protecting.”
British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) deputy chief executive Michael Weedon said the measures were “very positive”. He added: “It’s a good thing and it’s good they have responded so quickly. The question is whether £10m will be enough.”
Retailers hit by the weather also welcomed the Government’s plans.
Andrew Cheeseman, owner of two-store young fashion retailer Madhouse in Cornwall, said: “We haven’t been able to open the Looe store for three weeks now. As fast as we try to get things sorted it gets flooded again.”
“Anything that is going to help will be good – even if we do manage to open this week we will have lost something in the region of £9,000 to £10,000.”
Fat Face’s Fowey store in Cornwall has also suffered. “The store has been flooded a couple of times,” said chief executive Anthony Thompson. “There has been no stock damaged though as we had advance notice and are well-prepared.”
Thompson added there had been a knock-on effect with lower footfall. “It has dampened everything – literally,” he said.
According to research firm Springboard, footfall on high streets in coastal towns fell 8.9% year on year in the week beginning February 10.
From Monday to Sunday of that week, UK-wide footfall across all retail locations fell 6.6% year on year, but rose 0.9% week on week.
High streets have been hit hardest, falling 10.7% year on year and 0.3% week on week over the same period.