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Sales hit by snow

Published:  07 January, 2010

The drinks trade is counting the cost of the snow and ice as transport grinds to a halt and consumers stay at home.

The drinks trade is counting the cost of the snow and ice as transport grinds to a halt and consumers stay at home.

Staff absenteeism is also a cost to the industry. The Forum of Private Businesses says a single day is costing the country £230 million, using the daily GDP figure, anticipated vehicle breakdown levels from the AA, average salaries and official data reflecting an expected fall in retail sales.

With temperatures dropping to as low as -18C and treacherous driving conditions across the country, many on and off-trade businesses have struggled to make and receive deliveries and sales have fallen as people stay at home.

Jamie Hutchinson, owner of The Sampler shop in London, said: "The biggest problem is that no one can be bothered to shop, so trade is way down. Other issues are some deliveries have had to be refused because the wine has come in half frozen.

"The silver lining to this is that it doesn't matter, because nothing is selling anyway, and it gives us much more time to adjust for the recent VAT rise! Ivy, the shop dog, is loving it though - very hard for her to overheat whilst doing the daily rampage."

Pubs and restaurants have been running low on stocks as lorries struggle to reach them.

The Peels Arms, in Padfield, near Glossop, normally takes its ales from Scottish & Newcastle but the company's trucks were unable to reach the country hostelry in the Pennine foothills.

Instead, local microbrewery brewery Howard Town stepped in with an emergency supply of its bitters on Tuesday morning.

Pub landlord Phil Flanagan said: "We're supposed to be getting a delivery from Scottish & Newcastle in the next couple of day, but I can't see that happening. We might as well be on the moon."

The FPB has criticised head teachers for closing schools too readily in the snowy weather, saying lost working days are affecting many companies.

"Employees make businesses grow and losing key staff because of the weather, even for just a day, is very damaging, particularly in the current economic climate," said the FSB's research manager, Tom Parry.