Summer washout may cost Scottish economy million

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THE summer washout is set to cost the Scottish economy tens of millions of pounds, experts claimed today as forecasters warned of more heavy rain and possible flooding this weekend.

Shops, already struggling because of the recession, fear their trade will be hit by the prolonged spell of bad weather as torrential rain and flooding deters shoppers from venturing into the high street.

Insurance companies face payouts totalling millions of pounds for the damage caused to residential and commercial properties across the UK by devastating floods.

And train and travel firms also face enormous compensation claims from passengers whose journeys were cancelled or thrown into chaos by the adverse weather conditions.

Last month was the wettest June on record and the first few days of July have seen no improvement.

The Met Office forecast rain becoming persistent and heavy across the Lothians today, leading to localised flooding. More heavy and persistent rains with further localised flooding is also on the cards for tomorrow.

Organisers of this weekend’s T in The Park music festival at Balado, near Kinross, have insisted the show will go on despite the forecasts.

But the weather has hit other regular summer events. Last month’s Royal Highland Show at Ingliston is said to have seen a worrying drop in business with an estimated 20,000 visitors staying away because of flooding.

First indications of just how badly the rain and floods have hit the high street could come next week when Marks & Spencer publish its quarterly results.

The firm is seen as particularly vulnerable to unseasonal weather because it is trying to sell summer fashion and beachwear. But while the high street giant may see its profits cut by the weather, the fear is other smaller companies will struggle to remain afloat. And that inevitably raises fears of job losses.

A spokesman for the Scottish Retail Consortium said there was “real concern” among traders about the long-term damage caused by a poor summer.

He said: “What retailers want is weather appropriate to the time of year. Say you are a company where the stock consists of sandals, skirts, shorts and sunglasses. That is the stock they will want people to buy.

“But if it is wetter or colder than usual, people are less inclined to buy that summer stock.”

Last month saw double the average rainfall for June. April was also the wettest since 
records began more than a century ago.