Snow news regional round-up: sales flourish - but not for building materials

Published:  11 January, 2010

UK: Family-run C&C Supplies (Collinson) on Longmoor Lane, Garstang, Lancashire like most merchants, has been inundated with a surge in demand for salt as council stocks run low.

Paul Mallett, manager said: "In between Christmas and New Year we sold about 1,500 tonnes in the last two weeks. We had 383 people in paying cash on Monday. It's the busiest year ever. I've not known it to be like this in 15 years. We've not been selling any building material, so it's a good job we have been selling this."

Customers have been snapping up the 25kg bags, which cost £4.95 each, to clear their paths and driveways since snow and ice hit the county.

A B&Q spokesman said: "From rock salt to shovels and wellies the big freeze is certainly having an impact on weather-related products.

"In the last three weeks, compared to last year, sales of rock salt are up 150%, shovels up 200% and wellies up 120%."

"It seems we are quite concerned about our feathered friends during this cold snap, with sales of bird feed and feeders up by 15% in the run up to Christmas.

"Demand for spot heaters has also been high in the last three weeks, as people are topping up their existing heating system or wanting to heat just one room that is being used rather than the whole house."

Customer disappointment

But many customers have been left disappointed as suppliers run out of equipment and distributors find it difficult to make deliveries.

In Oxfordshire, Keith Smith, owner of Smith & Low DIY stores in Hollow Way, Cowley, said: "We have sold out of shovels and have one spade left - the trouble with the weather is you never know what is going to happen next and it's always a job to get in new stock. We have sold out of what we have and none of our suppliers can get out to deliver. People have been coming in asking for sledges, big plastic snow shovels, and grit and car batteries.

"People turn to stores like us when the weather is bad. We even had someone come in asking for a lump of heavy-duty plastic so they could sit on it as a makeshift sledge."

Although they might have sold out of essential stock, many DIY stores have reported poor trade.

All sold out

In Headington, Oxfordshire Simon Griffin, manager of A to Z Household Goods in London Road, Headington, said: "People have been after sleighs, shovels, salt and wellies but they are just not available – it's a shame because I could have made a fortune from it. I could have sold 300 sleighs, no trouble."

Dave Kempster, manager of Wickes in Botley Road, said: "We have sold out of spades and rock salt, but no one is coming in, it has been really quiet.

"Wednesday was dead and Thursday livened up a little, but we are taking 50 per cent of what we would usually do. We ran out of rock salt before the snow came and spades sold out on Wednesday morning."

Christine Hodges, manager of Wilkinson's in Templars Square, Cowley, said: "All our Wellingtons sold out on Wednesday. We had a delivery the following day, but as soon as they came in they just went. "

Mike Augar, manager of Johnsons Buildbase in Watlington Road, Cowley, said: "We shut for two days because of the weather but trade yesterday was fairly brisk."

A number of shops in York confirmed they had sold out, leaving people searching for alternatives.

B & Q in Osbaldwick Lane ran out of grit more than a week ago, with back-up supplies yet to arrive, while Barnitt's in Colliergate is also out, although fresh resources are "always on order".

Homebase in Foss Islands Road ran out of grit before Christmas and is currently unable to get more supplies, while Wickes at Clifton Moor has seen customers arriving from Leeds – only to be disappointed as the store's 600 bags have gone.

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