Retailers across the UK are putting their bad weather contingency plans into practice as a prolonged cold snap settles in.
Forecasters are predicting up to two weeks of wintry weather, with plummeting temperatures and snow in many areas. Scotland is expected to be the worst affected.
Light sleet and snow have been dusting roads in Paisley, Renfrewshire, where Sinclair Barr Newsagents owner Des Barr had his shovel and grit at the ready. “When bad weather hits the first thing to do is get in early and start clearing snow off the pavement as there’s no point having a store full of stock if people can’t get to it,” he said. “I’ve also stocked up on essentials, and circulated a newsletter with the store’s phone number to local elderly people so they can call if they need us to deliver supplies to them.”
Down in the small rural village of Plymtree, Devon, community shop manager James Carpenter had made arrangements for key deliveries to be dropped off at a site close to the motorway where it could be collected by 4x4 should snow prevent lorries from accessing the store. “We also work with other village shops to coordinate our supply chains and increase stock of longer life staples,” he said.
In the East Sussex village of Bells Yew Green convenience store and mobile shop owner Peter Lamb said he had already fitted snow tires on his van, and had invested in some snow chains.
“I want to be sure that I can get out to pick up supplies and also be able to reach people in rural villages which may be cut off if the snow turns heavy,” he said. “For some elderly people we are a real lifeline when the weather gets bad.”
Peter had also stocked up on long life milk, bread and canned soup, as had Alec Gardner of East Bergholt Post Office and Store in Colchester, Essex. “We know from experience that cold weather and snow can increase trade by at least 25%. It’s not just about the extra sales though, it’s about being there for local people and supporting them in a difficult time which is what community retailing is all about.”