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Independents report roaring trade in snowy conditions

Published: 2 December 2010
Hardware stores sell out stocks of snow shovels, sledges and rock salt, as snowed-in consumers choose, and need, to shop locally.
Independents report roaring trade in snowy conditions
The severe winter weather has given local retailers a huge boost in sales, with snow-related products flying off the shelves in a matter of hours. W&D Peddie Ltd in Perthshire, Scotland, one of the hardest hit areas in the UK, has soldiered on and seen impressive sales of snow shovels over the past few days.

Owner Alan Borthwick explained: "We've sold out of shovels and salt. We had good stock anyway but people have been buying them up. On Monday when we were blitzed with snow, we shifted something like 80 or 90 shovels. We got another 10 builder shovels in just 15 minutes ago and we're already down to four. And that's builder shovels - although you need the metal ones because if everything is going to ice, the plastic ones will be no good."

Members of staff at the hardware shop, based on Perth high street, have struggled to get to work via snow covered roads, while those with 4x4 vehicles have found them invaluable. "The outlying roads are terrible", said Mr Borthwick. Local buildings have also suffered, although this could prove beneficial to the hardware shop. "We will see an increase in the repair and maintenance side soon. We've had a few calls from local farms whose roofs have collapsed. Next it will be the plumbing side, with burst pipes in the cold. It was -7 this morning!"

West Yorkshire retailer Douglas Yeadon has also reaped the benefits of the wintry weather. The Wetherby independent, which saw about 8-9 inches of snow fall in the area, has experienced significant sales of snow-related products and has even managed to attract a few new customers. Owner Mark Yeadon told DIY Week: "It's been spot on - couldn't have been better. We've sold out of snow pushers, sledges and rock salt. I think we did something like £2,000 worth of snow pushers on the Saturday and Monday. It was about the same with sledges and, as for rock salt, three pallets at £8 a bag..."

He added: "My only regret is that I didn't buy more. Everybody in the area has sold out of things like sledges and snow pushers. Now we're selling lots of screenwash, de-icer, cooking salt, logs, coal and calor gas. There are no complaints here... I'm happy with what we've sold. It's also meant we've got a few new faces in. People we've not seen before because they shopped elsewhere or would have been at work because they had the day off they've been wandering round the town."

While, Mr Yeadon said, the shop ordered extra stock in anticipation of snowy weather, he has been taken aback by the sheer volume of sales over the past week. "If someone had told me a month ago that getting in 200 snow pushers might not be enough and we should be looking at 500, I would have thought 'no way'."

Meanwhile, a bit closer to the DIY Week offices, Coulsdon Home Hardware has also been thankful for the icy conditions, with sales up and shoppers making the most of what their local hardware store has to offer.

Like most retailers, manager Dave Bowden just wishes he'd ordered in even more stock to keep up with demand, as deliveries struggle in treacherous driving conditions. He explained: "It's improved business. People have been buying sledges, snow shovels - and because they can't get to the big stores, they've been shopping locally. We ordered 200 sledges in February and then 200 in November - we thought we were being optimistic but the weather has been so bad, we've ordered 200 more. They've not come in yet though. Deliveries are struggling. We've also been selling rock salt - we've not sold that before. It's doing really well.

Mr Bowden has also noticed the difference in peoples' demeanour as result of the snow. "People have been saying what a nice atmosphere there is. The snow changes people. They are saying hi to each other when they walk past and are so much friendlier."


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