Severe flooding affected shop owners in north-west England, Scotland and Derbyshire, while power cuts in London forced stores to close.

Tapan Chotai, of Bridge Lane Nisa Local in Bramhall, Stockport, told betterRetailing flood damage will cost him £50,000 after previous incidents made him “uninsurable”.

“Since the last flood in 2016, I haven’t been able to get insurance as my shop is considered a high-flood- risk area,” he said.

Despite Stockport Council confirming those affected would be eligible for a £200 grant, Nisa also provided extra support.

A spokesperson told betterRetailing: “The retailer’s RDM has worked closely with him, helping arrange remerchandising and payment flexibility to ensure funds were available for immediate repairs.”

In Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, floods led to the evacuation of 85% of the town. Andrew Warrington, of Horwich End Post Office, told betterRetailing: “We were evacuated from the premises and out of business for six days. 

“We had not planned for this because a dam has been there for 200 years without any issues.”

Businesses affected have been told they can claim up to £100,000 in emergency funding by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Responding to the incidents, Ruth George, MP for High Peak, told betterRetailing: “As a local resident, I am all too aware of the impact on local businesses.”

She said: “I am aware many businesses may not be covered by insurance, which is why the Bellwin funding is important. This should cover businesses who suffered a large loss of trade.”

Leader of Derbyshire County Council Barry Lewis added: “It’s essential that local authorities have the structures, resources and reserves in place to respond in times of crisis.”

However, in London, Abkar Khan was forced to shut his store, Khan’s Bargains, following power cuts. Khan stressed that more support is needed for retailers in managing unexpected events. “Public services are not ready to support us,” he told RN. 

“A bit of snow, and London is paralysed, but in countries that are often affected by floods, strong winds and power cuts, they have policies and strategies in place to help businesses.”

The Mayor of London’s office reminded retailers that a Business Continuity Planning factsheet is available online.

It offers guidance on how to plan for a response to a “serious incident, emergency or disaster that prevents it from continuing its normal operations”.

Retail Mutual’s manager, Kirsty Hampton, urged retailers to speak to specialist insurance providers.

“If you can’t obtain cover from the insurance market, there are specialist providers available,” she said. “The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) can help you locate a flood specialist.”

She also warned of the dangers of using comparison websites. “If you have a unique risk or location, it’s best to discuss your situation with an actual person so they can understand your history and flood defences,” she added.

How you can prepare for the unexpected

• Work closely with your symbol group’s RDM 

• Speak to the council about emergency funds and keep contingency money to one side

• Keep acquainted with public planning documents so you know what to do in the case of emergencies

• Pressure councils and local government to maintain the highest standards of emergency defences

• Be willing to co-insure, you may need to negotiate higher excess so you have cover for a large loss

• Have back-up power sources to stop wastage of frozen and chilled produce