Hospitality sector counting on public to venture out while weekend sun lasts

The UK saw 127% of the usual monthly rainfall in March, according to the Met Office.

The UK hospitality sector has been hit by bad weather and rising costs
The UK hospitality sector has been hit by bad weather and rising costs (Alamy Stock Photo)

Hospitality groups have urged the public to take advantage of a weekend break in the spring weather to visit local businesses which have been hampered by months of excess rainfall.

The UK saw 127% of the usual monthly rainfall in March, rising to 162% in England and 179% in southern England, according to the Met Office.

So far this month, the UK has already seen 85% of the monthly average rainfall for April, with areas such as Wales and northern England having had more than 100%.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, voiced concern that an unseasonably damp spring was having an effect on footfall.

She told the PA news agency: “The last few months of 2023 and first quarter of 2024 have been notably wetter with many pubs adversely affected by flooding and a drop in subsequent trade.”

Ms McClarkin noted that events such as rugby’s Six Nations and Easter had provided an uptick in sales for many pubs, but said she hoped that drier weather would encourage a wider return to venues.

She said: “Like everyone across the beer and pub sector across the UK, we very much hope that the weather will be sunnier, especially ahead of a great summer of sport which should see more people enjoying a refreshing beer in the sun while cheering on their teams.”

Kathryn Chalk, operational meteorologist at the Met Office, said the weekend would be “very warm for the time of year”, with temperatures rising to 19 or 20C, but warned that the dry spell was not going to last.

“For Saturday we’ve still got a bit of a north south split,” she told the PA news agency, adding: “In the south, we could see a bit of cloud first thing, but once that lifts and breaks, we should see some sun.

“For Scotland and Northern Ireland, we’ve got a band of heavy showers pushing through with a rumble of thunder as well.”

Temperatures reached 21.5C at St James’s Park on Friday, and are expected to near 20C in southern England on Saturday before dropping to highs of around 15C on Sunday.

“It doesn’t last long, as we get some showers feeding through on Monday and it’s going to be feeling widely colder,” Ms Chalk said, adding: “It’s probably going to seem like the driest weekend for a while.”

Ms Chalk said a cold front would be sinking southwards, leading to patchy rain and sunny spells for most of England and Wales on Sunday with more blustery conditions expected in Scotland.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said the hospitality sector was hoping the weekend forecast would encourage the public to support their local businesses.

“The weather often plays an important role in people’s decision-making,” she told PA, adding: “When we have seen dry and sunny weekends, people are keen to make the most of the weather and head out in their droves to enjoy the best of what hospitality has to offer.

“Businesses across the sector will be hoping for a strong summer to offset the impact of the ever-rising cost burden that they are facing.

“Come rain or shine, I’d encourage everyone to support their local hospitality businesses.”

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) advised those thinking about enjoying the sunshine at the seaside, rivers or lakes, to be wary and take note of the sewage pollution.

Josh Harris, head of communications at SAS, said: “If you’re hoping to take a dip in this warmer weather, stay safe and download the Safer Seas and Rivers Service app to have pollution alerts at your fingertips.”

Mr Harris urged the public to report any evidence of pollution on the app to help fellow bathers identify safe areas to swim.

“Water companies spill sewage come rain or shine”, he said, adding: “The blatant disregard for public health and our blue spaces is appalling.”

The Environment Agency issued 15 flood warnings – where flooding is “expected” – and 84 flood alerts in England on Friday.

The agency also issued 42 red cautions for strong streams on the River Thames, advising users of all boats not to navigate.

The Met Office’s shipping forecast had eight gale warnings in place on Friday afternoon, mostly covering northern sea areas such as Viking, Fair Isle, Hebrides, Bailey and Malin.