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Suffolk: Snow has not put business on ice

11:11 21 January 2013

Shoppers in Bury St Edmunds brave the elements

Shoppers in Bury St Edmunds brave the elements

BUSINESS leaders have claimed that the cold snap has not put Suffolk’s shops and town centres on ice.

As more snow swept across the county last night, some experts claimed that the plunging temperatures and Arctic conditions could actually lead to a boost in sales.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of the Bury St Edmunds town centre business improvement group Bid4 Bury, said that the impact of bad weather so far has been limited.

Mr Cordell, who said that the situation would have been worse if the snow forecast for Friday night had landed, added: “When you’ve got such a wide diverse mix of businesses, all circumstances will suit some better than others.”

“What ever the weather throws up, the shrewd businessperson will be able to make some advantage out of it. At the moment it is boom time for those selling warm clothing.”

Mr Cordell said some businesses last year had suffered due to the mild winter, after a bitter December and January the year before.

“The shops that sell clothes and shoes all have to order their stock six months in advance, so it is a guessing game.

“It certainly has not been horrendous for business this year. If you come into town and you’re cold, you go into a coffee shop and that is another business that is gaining an advantage because of the weather.”

The Bid4 Bury boss said the affect of snow overnight would depend on the impact on transport and infrastructure.

He added: Monday and Tuesday tend to be quieter days. There would much more of an impact on a Wednesday or Saturday and I suppose. I know they will all endeavour to open though.”

Paul Clements, chief executive of Ipswich Central, the company responsible for running the town centre Business Improvement District (BID), said any disruption to the economy would be short-lived.

He added: “I don’t know if it has affected footfall because we don’t count on a daily basis. But, in my view bad weather does disrupt the economy, but if it is prolonged I don’t think it has a sustained affect because at the end of it, we carry on shopping and having leisure time.

“We all spend money eventually anyway.”

The cold snap comes as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) released their national footfall figures for December, which showed a 1.2% drop on December 2011.

The fall came in spite of a 7.5% leap in the number of shoppers hitting stores in the week before Christmas, with bargain-hunters leaving their festive shopping until even later to take advantage of discounts.

Town centre shops recorded the smallest fall in shopper numbers, down 0.5% year-on-year last month compared with a 1% fall in out-of-town locations and a 2.8% drop in shopping centres.

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