Traders weather summer ‘storm’

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TRADERS are keeping their heads above water as rain plays havoc with people’s shopping habits and puts paid to big summer attractions like Long Sutton’s Horse and Pony Show.

Britain’s wettest ever summer has seen back garden barbecue trade fall off for butchers, pubs barely use their gardens and now a delay of at least a week on the opening of Whaplode’s Maze in Maize.

Most traders are winning in some areas and losing in others – and are keeping their fingers crossed that summer will kick in soon and stay until late September or October.

Maze boss Lance Whittington said yesterday his maize is only 14-15 inches high when it should be more than twice that at 3ft 6in or 4ft.

He said maize needs warmth to shoot up and he’s pinning his hopes on a better forecast for next week so he can open on July 28.

The five day forecast shows heavy rain for today, light rain tomorrow, cloud for Saturday and Sunday – and the first sunny spells on Monday.

Andrew Parsons, partner at Bennetts Butchers, in Winsover Road, Spalding, said his business did well for end of school barbecues but the back garden barbecue “just isn’t happening”.

His customers are buying meat for their families, but not the traditional feast they would buy to share with 12 to 15 people invited round for a party.

Darryl Simpson, manager of Hills Department Store, Spalding, said the shop is doing well and will keep its summer fashions available so people can buy when the weather is warmer and drier – and not turn up to find the store has switched to winter stock.

An example of win-lose at Hills is that artificial tanning products are flying off the shelves while traditional sun tan lotion stays put.

Weston Fun Farm boss Albert Slator said business is up for indoor children’s play, but down for outdoor golf and car boots.

Spalding’s Punchbowl pub landlord Pete Williams said he hasn’t put out deckchairs and beanbags in the pub garden and it hasn’t been used at all this year.

He said: “Last year wasn’t brilliant but it was better than this.”

Lincolnshire Co-operative Travel in Spalding’s Hall Place say bookings for holidays abroad are up on last year and Florida – with its guaranteed sunshine – is a popular destination.

A spokesman said people are also choosing holidays in this country, at places like Butlins, but travellers are also booking foreign holidays now for 2013.