It’s coming to something when you find yourself looking at long-term UK weather forecasts in search of good news.
Especially just ahead of summer. But that’s just what I did this week and indeed found something to feel a bit upbeat about.
After two miserable rain-soaked summers on the bounce, we could be in for a bit of a scorcher - well, temperatures marginally above average. You have to hope that having not had to buy a summer wardrobe for the best part of 24 months, even the most credit crunch-conscious consumer will at least succumb to some sandals and a sun dress or shorts.
A 7.8% rise in May Day bank holiday footfall at the UK’s largest shopping centre, Bluewater in Kent, to take just one example, provides some evidence that shoppers are perhaps being tempted. This should, however, be taken in the context of a high level of promotional activity at the moment. A bit of sun is certainly an incentive to spend, but 30% off is probably more persuasive.
With the weak pound and the promise of a half-decent summer, the UK could position itself as a very attractive tourist shopping destination this year. The cloud in that silver lining is obviously the swine flu outbreak, which while mercifully not yet as bad as it could have been, is still a deterrent for travellers and could keep them away from airport check-in desks.
But I won’t be denied this sun-fuelled optimism by that not-so-small point. If people don’t travel to the UK then it is equally as likely they won’t be travelling from it either and will stay at home to enjoy the slightly-warmer-than-average summer. Hopefully, while wearing new summer clothes.