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UK Flood Damage to Cost Local Businesses, Citizens Billions

Widespread flooding in North England could cost the U.K. economy billions, according to new estimates.

Accountancy firm KPMG on Monday said that the damage caused to British businesses and homes hit by torrential rain and flooding this month could amount to 6 billion pounds, or $8.9 billion, with as much as one fifth of the overall cost falling to those with insufficient insurance cover.

KPMG’s assessment surpassed an earlier one from PwC, which pegged the figure at more than 1.5 billion pounds ($2.24 billion).

It’s been one of the wettest months on record for the U.K., with some already-saturated areas experiencing more than 200 millimeters (around 8 inches) of rainfall during the Dec. 25-26 period alone—and more rain is on the way.

That doesn’t bode well for northern retailers, many of which were forced to close their doors during one of the busiest shopping times of the year due to rising water levels.

Wet weather aside, sales have been sluggish throughout the U.K. of late. A recent survey of 118 retailers by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that revenue growth was weaker than expected in December and it’s expected to be flat in January.

With that being said, preliminary figures for Boxing Day (the British equivalent of Black Friday which falls on Dec. 26) from analyst Springboard showed that footfall at brick-and-mortar stores increased 11.7% across the country, compared to last year. It remains to be seen whether those numbers rang true at the register.