Thrills and spills in the BIG chill

PUBLISHED: 11:20 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 17:30 25 August 2010

SHOPS have been stripped bare of sledges as thousands of snow revellers take advantage of the white stuff.

SHOPS have been stripped bare of sledges as thousands of snow revellers take advantage of the white stuff.

Garden centres, DIY and toy shops have seen their stocks of sledges disappear since the snow first arrived just before Christmas. Nearly all have sold out.

Stores across South-east London and North-west Kent have not only sold thousands of sledges but have also sold out of lilos and other items used by creative sledgers.

Speaking last Saturday, Jean Rose, co-owner of traditional toy shop Nuxley Toys, said: "We've completely sold out! We buy stock at Easter and sometimes we hold it for five years but sometimes it's not enough."

Mrs Rose, who runs her and her husband's two stores in Bellegrove Road, Welling, and in Milton Road, Gravesend, said: "Then we got the idea of using lilos and things like that, because customers would come in and say: 'Do you have any of those big swimming rings or lilos?' and we did have about 150 of them. They start from £2.99 and all you have to do is bend the corner up to steer them, so they're great as sledges.

"So now we have posters in the windows advertising our inflatables and they're going like hot cakes."

The 71-year-old added: "It's a nice bonus at this time of year, especially given the recession."

The couple have sold more than 500 sledges at the Gravesend shop and more than 200 at Welling. More than 100 lilos, rubber rings and 'space rockets' have been bought at both branches.

Mrs Rose said that her customers were sledging at Shooter's Hill, Oxley Woods, Bexley Golf Course and near Thong Lane in Gravesend.

Jan East, manager of Hawley Garden Centre in Hawley Road, Dartford, said it sold more than 200 sledges, at £9.99 each, from last Thursday to Saturday, when the stock sold out.

She said: "That stock usually lasts a couple of years!" The centre has placed an order for 250 more sledges, which were expected to arrive this week.

"We have sold some funny things to kids, like large saucers for plant pots - which you wouldn't normally expect teenagers to buy, so they must be making their own sledges," she said.

"We are hoping the snow lasts as it's obviously good news for us."

But Lorimers toy shop in Orpington High Street was unable to cash in on the rush for sledges as bosses did not order any this year.

Store supervisor Janette Brown said: "Since the snow started, we must have turned away 75 to 100 customers looking for sledges. We have always stocked them, but decided not to this year.

"At £15 each we would have made at least £1,000, so it's a real shame as that money would have been very welcome.

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