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Walton-on-the Naze: Wet summer weather affects ice cream seller's takings

A seaside ice cream seller said she has faced her worst sales in 12 years because of the rainy summer

Lenka Green, from Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, relies on income during the six-week school holiday to get her through the winter.

She said: "We are the sunshine coast - there hasn't been that much sun."

Pete Waters, from Visit East of England, said while the weather has affected outdoor tourism, other sectors "have had a good summer".

Ms Green said: "It's certainly been tough due to the weather so far - it's my 12th season and I would say it's probably been the worst."

She runs the Central Kiosk and Ice Cream Central on Princes Esplanade and, as it lacks indoor space, it cannot offer customers shelter when the weather turns cold and wet.

"We have had some good sun in June. However, once the kids break up that's our peak season, that's the way we make our money to survive the winter, and unfortunately that hasn't really been happening this year," she said

"Takings are down massively percentage-wise - I dare to say my biggest concern is the winter because we don't operate in the winter."

She hopes to pick up some takings if there is an Indian summer but knows that "everyone is feeling the pinch" at the moment - her own electricity bill has doubled.

Ms Green is unlikely to try to open over the winter, because "you're burning electricity or paying wages, so how can I afford it if I haven't got any money coming into the till?"

Alison Mitchell said takings this summer have been "dire, absolutely dire" because people were reluctant to book the beach hut, which she rents out when not using it herself.

"So much so that during August I then offered that people could cancel or change their date up to 24 hours before if the weather looked like it would be dodgy, so that they would make the commitment and book," she said.

"And even the days that I've had to be able to come down to the hut I've been very, very disappointed and quite cold on some of them."

But did add such weather was to be expected in the UK.

As a result, she has decided to market the hut more flexibly in the future, so that people can postpone or rebook at shorter notice.

Pete Waters, executive director of Visit East of England, said while "some of the only outdoor attractions have been impacted by the weather" others had fared well.

"The real trend has been people have been leaving taking their breaks later, based on the weather, but also based on household's expenditure as well," he said.

However, at a recent meeting with local authorities and destination managers, he was told "footfall is very strong indeed".

Mr Waters also said "considerable investment" in accommodation meant "people are much happier having holidays here".

"The picture is mixed, but accommodation, visitor attractions are very, very strong and the offer that we have here is very much weather-proofed, so even if the weather's a bit inclement, people can still come here and have a good time," he said.

"Rather than go into the beaches or the broads, visitors go into the cities and towns."

Meanwhile, Colchester Zoo has been happy with its visitor numbers, according to its director of science, education and training.

Andy Moore, of the zoo, said: "We've been putting on lots of extra added value because this is of course our 60th year and I think people really embrace that.

"Our local population come out and support us in their thousands and that's been no different."

The extra offer includes 25 keeper talks, "exploratoriums", which cover different aspects of science, and carnival shows on its stage.

Mr Moore said: "The really wet days are a little bit quieter, but the sunny days more than made up for it.

"People will plan to come to an event or not based on that forecast, but if it's bad weather forecast for any length of time, people will clothe up appropriately and brave the weather."

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