23 July 2012

News and Weather

This summer has seen some of the wettest conditions on record.  Recent reports from high street chains describe disappointing sales.  Most ad hoc shopkeepers also bemoan the rotten conditions.  Wet days change our regular routines: we dart to the Tube station after work instead of sipping a cold drink in the park; we forego the ice cream sandwich on the street in favour of a hot drink in a cafe; we spend less, hibernate more.  This all hurts convenience retailers, souvenir shops, kiosks, and newsagents. 

There’s no way to the ward off the rains, but material adaptations mitigate its effects. 

For kiosks, the canopy is particularly essential.  Shopkeepers discuss how patrons take refuge beneath it during the rain and how they’re more likely to stop for a purchase on wet days if it means a short time under cover.  Without a canopy, many have to close when the rains come so products don’t get soaked. 

I’ve spoken to a number of shopkeepers with broken canopies, waiting for corporate producers to deliver promised branded covers.  Many have been waiting a long time and others have thrown up their hands and shelled out themselves, knowing these delays cost their business.

Albeit a bane to most, a few retailers in my neighbourhood have sheepishly delighted in this soggy season – namely those selling umbrellas.  Some of these vendors – with licences to sell “weather goods”: sunglasses, umbrellas, scarves, gloves, pashminas, etc. – report record sales.  Although it’s rained almost every day in the last few months, it seems people are still often caught out sans brolly.

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