DRIVING rain and high winds left traders counting the cost of a Bank Holiday weekend wash-out.
Business owners along Blackpool’s world famous Golden Mile today said the weekend was a damp squib for the resort, with trade significantly down on previous years.
Despite warm weather peaking on Sunday, many businesses blamed Friday’s early weather predictions for putting people off from making a trip to the resort.
But traders were hoping the Ride The Lights event tonight and the run up to Friday’s Switch-On extravaganza will give them a much-needed shot in the arm.
And while the Prom may have suffered, indoor attraction reported brisk trade as visitors escaped the wild weather.
Mark Yates, owner of Brooks Collectables gift shop on Waterloo Road, told The Gazette: “A lot of people just don’t set off for the day if the weather report is bad.
“It was busier when the sun came out on Sunday, but not like it should be.”
Peter Sedgwick, who owns North Pier and the rides on South and Central Piers, said: “Friday’s forecast for the weekend was terrible but it was lovely here on Sunday and North Pier was packed. It can put a lot of people off.
“If forecasters can’t get it right they shouldn’t do it, they’re doing damage to traders.”
The Sandcastle Waterpark reported visitors queueing for up to 90 minutes to get into the attraction.
Managing director John Childs said: “We’ve been full to capacity with queues out the door each day. Obviously the indoor attractions will do better in this weather, but the last few bank holidays we’ve always had great ones.”
Some accommodation owners also reported a busy weekend of bookings, despite the bad weather early on.
Mick Grewcock, who owns Queen’s Mansions and Burbage Lodge on Queens Promenade, Bispham, said “We’ve been absolutely rammed.
“It’s been very good even though the weather was bad, because Blackpool has so many indoor attractions.
“People can duck and dive the rain at attractions here. If they go to somewhere like the Lakes there’s no getting away from it.”
Though all traders along the Promenade agreed that the rain had had a detrimental effect on business, some looked to other factors.
Landau driver Michael Van de Laar said: “Most visitors here are British so they don’t let themselves be put off by the rain, but people have less expendable income on the whole.
“Compared to other years business is down.”
Mr Sedgwick said he never had high hopes for busy summer while the country is in a recession.
He added: “It was never going to be a bumper season with the Government saying money is so tight, people are watching what they spend.
“They’re just not spending the money they used to spend.”
Harley Jameson, owner of Jameson’s Catering on the Promenade, said: “It’s not been like a bank holiday should be.
“We’re not getting the families here. It’s down to people not having the money.
“Of course, the weather has killed trade. Friday and Monday were a wash out, even Sunday was quiet.”
Some traders feared the weather reports had had a worse effect than the weather itself.
Angie Ramsey, who owns shoe store The Flossy Shop on the Promenade, said: “It’s not been as busy as you’d expect Blackpool to be. It’s not been a busy summer really.
“The weather and the forecasts haven’t helped. They said on the weather forecast this morning ‘don’t go to Blackpool, it’s going to rain’, it’s ridiculous. You need good weather on Blackpool Promenade.”
While some indoor attractions said they had benefited from the bad weather, as tourists headed for shelter, others were still seeing fewer visitors than in previous years.
Tim Harrison, supervisor at Funland arcades, added: “We’re not getting as many in as we used to but we’ve ticked over. Every year gets worse. Monday was our busiest day when it was raining.”
Now traders and business owners say they are hoping the Illuminations will bring a new influx of visitors, and with them enough money for businesses to see out another season.
Mr Sedgwick added: “You just have to hope the weather picks up for the Illuminations, then we’ll be sorted.”