Gloomy June weather hampering UK businesses forecast to improve next week

A cold and wet start to the summer, which risks hampering UK businesses reliant on heavy footfall and tourism, is set to improve from the middle of next week after an “unsettled” beginning to June, forecasters have said.

Temperatures so far this month have been a few degrees below their seasonal average as an area of low pressure keeps conditions cool – a stark contrast to the hottest June on record, seen this time last year, where the mercury rose as high as 32.2C in Lincolnshire and Surrey.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned last month that “gloomy, wet weather combined with the cost of living” had dampened spending in April.

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell flat following 55% more rainfall than normal that month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Haydock Racecourse file photo
Despite a cold and wet start to the meteorological summer in many places, rainfall has actually been lower than its June average (Clint Hughes/PA)

In a 2018 joint study, the Met Office and BRC said “unseasonal weather” could influence consumer behaviour and “strongly affect monthly growth figures”.

The colder temperatures so far this month, which have hovered around an average of 15-16C, pose particular challenges for small businesses which rely on tourism or high street foot traffic.

James Sproule, an economist at Handelsbanken, said the continued unusual weather means businesses can expect “similarly soggy results”.

He added: “These will be particularly hard to bear for smaller firms which are naturally less geographically diversified and more dependent on footfall – as opposed to online – to drive sales.

“Summer, when it arrives, will be very welcome for many reasons.”

Met Office spokesperson Stephen Dixon said it had been “a cold start to June”, but added: “From the middle of next week, there’s that signal to see temperatures return more towards average for the time of year.”

“It’s important to note that wouldn’t mean a heatwave, it wouldn’t mean notably hot weather,” he said.

Mr Dixon said a “cool pool of air over the UK” had “subdued temperatures” and resulted in an “unsettled” feel to the weather.

He added: “The jet stream dictates much of the UK’s weather and what we’ve got at the moment is the development of air, kind of, coming from the north and bringing down that cooler, polar arctic air mass over the UK which, in the summer, means the weather is cold on average.”

The Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) – which monitors building activity in the UK and is a “bellwether” for the economy – found sales in the first quarter of 2024 had dropped by 7.2% compared to last year.

Builders Merchant Federation CEO John Newcomb said the results reflected “a general lack of consumer confidence” and “were not helped by adverse weather conditions in February and March delaying work”.

Despite much of the UK seeing a cold and wet start to the meteorological summer, which began on June 1, rainfall has actually been lower than average this month, Mr Dixon said.

He added: “At this point in June, you would expect to have 40% of the average rain at this point in the month and at the moment, the UK is at 31% so we’re tracking below average in terms of rainfall amounts.

“However, there is more rain on the way in the current forecast – obviously we had a very wet day (on Thursday).”

Spring weather Mar 10th 2024
The colder temperatures so far this month pose particular challenges for small businesses which rely on summer tourism or high street foot traffic (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Joss Croft, CEO of tourism trade body UKinbound, suggested unfavourable weather should not have a detrimental impact on the tourism industry.

He said: “The overriding reason international tourists choose to visit the UK is our fantastic culture and heritage, with many visitors booking their trip here many months in advance.

“International visitors don’t come for the weather and are often pleasantly surprised, particularly those who may be travelling to the UK to enjoy the gardens and the changing of the seasons.

“These visitors will still travel to the UK, even if the weather is more inclement than last year.”

Mr Dixon said this weekend will see “showers possible in many areas of the UK but some brighter spells in between, as well as a mixture of sunshine and showers further south”.

“But in between those sunny spells, it’s going to remain feeling a touch cooler than average,” he added.

In some areas, such as the north of England and Scotland, thundery showers are possible.