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Firms left footing snow bill

Heavy snow in Rowner Gosport.
Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (13152-21)

Heavy snow in Rowner Gosport. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (13152-21)

SEVERE weather that brought the region to a standstill has resulted in businesses taking a huge hit after £1m was wiped off their takings.

Portsmouth city centre saw a five per cent drop in sales – equivalent to the seven-figure sum – when heavy snow fell last week.

Centre officials warn that if more snow arrives then takings will continue to plummet and shops will have to offer huge discounts in order to cover costs.

Barry Walker, Portsmouth city centre manager, said: ‘That’s money that can be clawed back if the weather is just a problem for five to ten days.

‘But if it turns into 21 days of bad weather then there will be a problem and January as a whole will be down in sales compared to the same time last year.

‘I wouldn’t be surprised to see shops offering “buy two get one free” deals.’

Meanwhile Hampshire County Council says the cost of cleaning up roads could be more than £1m by the end of the week.

A total of 31,500 miles of road have been salted – the equivalent to travelling from London to Sydney three times.

Cllr Mel Kendal, deputy leader and executive member for transport and environment said: ‘Since last Friday when the first heavy snow fell, we have spent over £900,000 on keeping Hampshire’s roads clear of snow and ice.

‘As the cold spell is expected to last until the end of this week, the cost will probably exceed £1m.

‘This includes over 20 salting runs of 45 vehicles which equates to 31,500 miles of road salted over this period.

‘Spot treatments on roads and footways, the replenishment of roadside salt bins have also been undertaken and around 5,000 tonnes of de-icing salt has been used.’

Diane Osborne, assistant manager of PDSA in Gosport High Street, said takings were down by as much as 75 per cent when the snow came down.

‘It really affected us badly when it was snowy,’ she said.

‘Buses were hit so there was no transport for people to get in.

‘Takings were minimal, down about 50 to 75 per cent.’

Caroline Collings, chairman of the south east Hampshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the weather has had a positive effect on some small shops.

‘We’ve had some smaller shops in rural areas telling us they’ve done pretty well, where people haven’t gone into work and have nipped to the shop for essential supplies,’ she said.

 

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