The Arctic weather conditions dealt a further blow to Britain¹s struggling tackle shops this week, with the cash tills at scores of outlets up and down the country running dry as anglers stayed away.
Heavy snow, frozen lakes and treacherous riverbanks have caused a dramatic decline in the number of fishermen venturing out, a trend which is increasing the financial pressure on shops desperate for business during the current credit crunch.
Just a couple of weeks after a raft of established stores, including Brundall Angling Centre and Housnlow Angling, fell by the wayside, many others are now claiming to be experiencing their worst trading period in living memory, with some barely taking enough to cover their costs.
One company that has felt the full force of the problem is Wombwell Angling Centre, in Barnsley. Hordes of customers normally flock to the popular outlet throughout the year, but shop worker Richard Champion admits he can¹t recall a quieter time in recent history.
“There has been a mega drop-off in sales and things are much worse than this time last year. Even hardened matchmen who have fished in all conditions for over 20 years are turning their back on the sport and it¹s affecting us.
Some days we are only getting a dozen customers through the door,” said Richard.
For many, the root of the problem lies in the cancellation of countless midweek matches due to transport problems and scores of venues remaining unfishable. This factor has certainly had a massive impact on Manchester-based Swinton Angling Centre. Shop assistant Paul Hargreaves told Angling Times: “All the lakes are frozen around here, and if it wasn¹t for Fridays and Saturdays, it wouldn¹t be worth opening at all.”
“It¹s definitely been a lot quieter compared to a year ago, but we hope that things will pick up once the sun returns and the evenings begin to draw out.” Despite the grim outlook, owners are hard at work trying to devise plans to stop the rot, among them Dave Roberts, of Kent¹s Medway Tackle. ³We have come up with a number of ways to beat the current conditions, including using eBay to sell stock.
“We have also organised more matches at local waters which aren¹t frozen, and we¹ve found that this has encouraged people to come into the shop and buy their essentials. Every little helps ¬ it¹s all about trying to be proactive,” he said.