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Sinking feeling for retailers as flooding wipes out sales

Retailers in flood-hit parts of the UK are expecting a severe downturn in sales, with heavy rain set to continue into next week and losses predicted to run into millions of pounds.

Sheffield's Meadowhall shopping centre was evacuated on Monday, with retailers on the ground floor under 4ft of water. A spokeswoman could not confirm when it would reopen as Drapers went to press. However, one retailer said he expected it would be weeks, not days, before it reopened, with losses likely to cost millions.

Mark Tesseyman, brand director at Bonmarche, said the retailer would be unable to salvage much of its £250,000 worth of stock from its Meadowhall store.

A spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer said its Meadowhall store was one of its flagships for the region. It was expecting to find out Meadowhall's plan of action in a conference call on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, independent retailers were also badly hit. Claire Wilson, owner of womenswear indie Claire Wilson in Sheffield, said three customers visited the shop on Tuesday. "We'll be down at least 30% on like-for-like sales," she added.

Julie Horsfield, owner of Barnsley womenswear indie JuJo, also predicted like-for-like sales would slump 30%.

- Poor June weather contributed to clothing sales falling at an annual rate of 52%, said the Confederation of British Industry. This is the lowest figure in the survey's 24-year history.

RAIN CHECK

A spokesman for the Met Office said more heavy rain was on its way this weekend. "The main message is that we're not out of the woods yet," he said. We're expecting a heavy band of persistent rain across the country on Saturday, with showers on Sunday and into next week, which will hamper rescue operations. For the rest of next week it will be unsettled, with cool temperatures of 16 degrees."

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