by Ben Sillitoe
North London’s Brent Cross Shopping Centre has had to close on what was set to be the busiest shopping day of the year so far.
Heavy snowfall has hit large parts of the UK, causing travel chaos on roads and at airports and railway stations nationwide, and the effect of the weather on the retail industry in what should be a bumper day for Christmas gift buying is likely to be severe.
A statement on Brent Cross’s website on Saturday afternoon said: “Due to adverse weather the centre is now closed.
“At the moment we hope to open the centre tomorrow.”
Brent Cross said on Thursday that it was expecting to welcome more than 500,000 shoppers through its doors in the nine days leading up to December 25th “with an early surge in numbers as shoppers rush to avoid the forecasted cold snap”.
This predicted figure is now surely set to be much lower, causing a major headache for retailers anticipating the traditional festive boost to sales.
A study from online shopping site Kelkoo and the Centre for Retail Research, published last week, suggested that the British high street was preparing for a £1.11 billion spending spree today, but these estimates will certainly have to be revised.
Research company Synovate said shopper numbers in some parts of the UK were down 22.3 per cent at the height of the snowy conditions during the first week of December.
Yesterday The Met Office commented: “There is the risk of further disruptive snow in parts of southern Britain on Sunday.
“Elsewhere, snow showers are expected to continue across other parts of the UK, especially in eastern Scotland.”