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Seasonal weather takes a toll on the UK

Passenger baggage piles up in the departure lounge of Terminal 3 at Heathrow airport/

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: It's cold and snowy in many parts of Europe. And there are fears the icy weather could plunge the whole British economy into the deep freeze. Airlines and rail companies have been the most visible casualties -- but many other companies have also been.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard is with us from the snowbound London and he's live with us here. Good morning, Stephen,

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: How hard is this storm hitting Europe's pretty weak economy?

BEARD: The UK economy is what we've got a figure for -- $1.5 billion a day according to a big insurance company here. Businesses like bars, restaurants and entertainment venues have taken quite a hit. Shops and retail chains are suffering very badly too. Some of them usually make as much as a third of their annual profits at this time of year, but the snow and ice are keeping the shoppers away. And online retailers are reporting problems too because they're having to put off customers by saying, because of the travel chaos we can't guarantee you'll get your good delivered before Christmas.

CHIOTAKIS: And snow has been reported -- it seems like everywhere in Europe. But it seems like the problems are worse there in the UK.

BEARD: Britain is less prepared because usually it has milder winters than continental Europe, but also, in this more American-style economy, many companies here have cut their costs more and reduced their ability to respond. Here's James Crask, of accounts PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

JAMES CRASK: Businesses have spent a lot of money on driving efficiency through organizations. And in working those efficiency through the organizations they have cut out resilience from their organizations.

Many of these companies may be floundering for the next few days. The very cold weather is forecast to last beyond Christmas.

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace's Stephen Beard, thanks.

BEARD: OK Steve.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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