Heatwave cooks up fresh challenges for stores

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With large parts of the UK continuing to bake in above average temperatures, retailers are having to keep cool heads to tackle a range of heat-related problems.

In Thames Ditton, Surrey, Manny’s store owner Manny Patel had to return a number of cases of chocolate after they were delivered almost entirely melted.

“Our delivery from Bestway arrived four hours late last week. It was only after it was unloaded and we were putting stock away that we realised that all of the chocolate bars were melted to an almost liquid state,” he said.

“The van obviously hadn’t had any cooling. I’m just hoping that there hasn’t been a similar issue with this week’s one. I’m just so thankful that we invested in an air conditioning unit when we refurbished the shop and I would recommend that all retailers do so. 

“It’s more than worth the initial outlay in times like this, especially if prolonged periods of hot weather are to become more common,” he adds. 

The heat has also been hard on staff, Dennis Williams, owner of Broadway Convenience (Premier) in Edinburgh said.

“With the temperature not dropping much at night, no one is sleeping well. Staff and store owners alike are tired yet still having to put in the same amount of work which can be challenging at times,” he added.

The strength of the sun on his store’s large bay windows has caused a different set of problems for David Worlsfold of Farrant’s in Cobham, Surrey.

“We’ve are having to rotate the stock in and in front of the windows almost every day because the products are simply getting too hot and the colours are deteriorating,” he says.

“We’re also having to be extra diligent with availability, on some days drinks have been selling faster than we can get them on shelves.

“Our staff currently wear branded uniforms but fortunately, because the store is fully air conditioned, I haven’t needed to soften the dress code as some other retailers without air conditioning are doing,” he added.

Last month, the Environmental Audit Committee recommended that the government consult on implementing maximum temperatures for workplaces, a change which would impact on stores without air conditioning.

In 2010, approximately five million staff days were lost due to overheating above 26°C resulting in economic losses of £770m.

Looking ahead

The Met Office long range forecast for 19 August to 2 September predicts, “longer spells of largely dry and fine weather in-between any brief spells of rain.

“During these spells of largely dry and fine weather there is a chance of very warm or hot temperatures, especially across southern parts. During any very warm or hot spells there is also a risk of thunderstorms across the south.”

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