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Snow hits high street sales

posted 20 Dec 2010, 07:27 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 20 Dec 2010, 07:30 ]
High street feels the big chill as snow and freezing temperatures keep Christmas shoppers at home as NW Europe gripped by Arctic snap.
EUROPE-WEATHER COST - There is little festive cheer on the high street as snow storms kept shoppers at home on the busiest weekend before Christmas.

London's bustling Oxford Street was abnormally quiet as only the most intrepid ventured out.

UNIDENTIFIED SHOPPER SAYING:

"At the end of the day it's quieter it's great. I mean if you try and come round Oxford Circus on a normal day you can't move, so delighted that it is like this at the moment."

But the Arctic blast is sending shivers down the spine of the British retail sector, which is seeing sales plummet as the UK faces its coldest December in a century.

Earlier this month, Insurer RSA suggested that the snow could be costing the economy almost 2 billion dollars - each day.

Currency analyst, Jane Foley warns the prolonged freeze could have a big impact on the UK economy.

JANE FOLEY, SENIOR CURRENCY STRATEGIST, RABOBANK:

"With respect to retail, although we've had the high street sales down, what we don't know is to what extent the Internet sites have been making good. Certainly we have seen very strong indications with respect to Internet shopping this year so it's difficult at this point to know precisely but certainly if this Arctic weather does continue for another week or two, I think the impact could be quite marked on the UK economy."

Internet companies haven't escaped the bad weather - with many sites warning customers that they can't guarantee deliveries in time for Christmas.

Millions of parcels are stuck in warehouses as Britain faces another week of travel gridlock.

Jill Towers ordered gifts online more than a fortnight ago - she's still waiting for them to arrive.

JILL TOWERS, INTERNET SHOPPER:

"I don't know if if I have to run out last minute and re-buy them or if they are going to turn up. No one seems to be able to tell me anything."

Thousands face disappointment on Christmas Day - with IOUs filling Santa's stockings.

Helen Long, Reuters

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