Can’t believe the weather today. It is not just raining its coming down in buckets, it’s windy and it’s freezing cold. This is supposed to be June and instead it feels more like a horrible November day! Weather like this in June is the last thing that we need for the economy particularly events, tourism and retail.
Today is Selkirk Common Riding. A day when Selkirk marks its boundaries on horseback and celebrates the great Borders tradition of the Common Riding. And it must be miserable out there. Though knowing the passion that the Souters have for their Common Riding suspect that celebrations will be going with a smile and a cheer anyway.
It is also St Boswells School sports day which unsurprisingly has been cancelled till next Friday. Hopefully it will go ahead but given every Friday in June has been pouring with rain so far so I am not overly hopeful!
In addition to these events this weekend is a really busy weekend in the Scottish Borders. It is the Borders Book Festival which brings lots of visitors to Melrose and the Scottish Borders and for local accommodation providers is a key weekend in the year. In fact one local hotel has said to me that it is the busiest and most profitable weekend of the year. And the weather does make a difference as people are less likely to browse round Melrose and other Border towns if the weather is bad. The book festival also benefits from on the day sales when people decide on the weekend of the festival that they will come along on the day. Two years ago the festival had great weather and sales over the festival soured and not only that people came just to take in the atmosphere. Hugely benefitting the local economy. As a book fan I am going to lots of events over the weekend and the rain won’t put me off enjoying it. But with my business hat on I do know that if the sun was out showcasing Melrose the economic benefits to the town would increase.
As well as the Borders Book Festival there are a number of other events in the area including a mountain bike event in Innerleithen. My sister-in-law who is a very keen mountain biker assured me yesterday that the bikers don’t mind the rain. But surely this will have an impact on spectators watching the event and thereby contributing to the local economy?
And for retailers. Rain is the last thing that is needed. Yesterday it was announced that retail sales in Scotland are significantly lower than elsewhere in the UK. All retailers are affected particularly fashion. I can count on my hands the number of days this summer where you truly have felt you can wear summer clothes. It does not make you feel that you want to go out and buy anymore. The weather does make a difference. On one of the rare days when the weather was good I sat and watched from an outside cafe customers going into a local shoe shop who is a client of ours. Each and every person came out with a purchase. Why? Because the weather was good. They felt good and wanted to treat themselves to a new pair of summer shoes and sandals. The sales are now starting with big retailers with local shops following shortly and I suspect there will be bargains galore but if the weather doesn’t improve it could still be an upward struggle to sell stock when people are watching the pennies and the rain falls down.
It is very British to talk about the weather like this. However when you think about it the weather does make a difference to the economy in many different ways including the ones that I have talked about here. Events, tourism and retail. I would urge you where you can even in the rain to support local events, holiday in the UK and support your local retailers. And lets all do a sun dance to make the sun come back!