Londoners were on Wednesday making the most of the heat blast — as hospitality bosses and economists welcomed an unexpected boost in sales.
The hot spell is set to continue into the weekend, with temperatures of at least 30C forecast for tomorrow, Friday and Saturday. Temperatures will need to remain above 25C in London for three consecutive days for the Met Office to officially register a heatwave.
Parts of West Yorkshire, Cornwall, Devon and Wales met the heatwave criteria yesterday, the Met Office said, and more areas are expected to be added to the list as the week goes on.
Economic experts said the September heat would help boost spending after a soggy summer that depressed sales on the high street.
David Loewi, chief executive of the D&D London dining group, said: “We’ve seen some of our restaurants double their business from last week. It’s not just the sunshine, it’s also about the absence of train strikes and the end of the school holidays.
“But there is no doubt the weather helps and across the board we have seen 50 to 100 per cent increases.”
Simon Dodd, chief executive of London pub group Young’s, said: “Our pub gardens were buzzing yesterday as we all relished the late summer sunshine. We are looking forward to a busy week, with continued hot weather combined with the start of the Rugby World Cup.”
Richard Hunter, financial commentator at Interactive Investor, said the hot weather could “lift spirits, both in terms of hospitality and sentiment”.
Charlton Lido, in Greenwich, said it was extending summer swimming hours to cope with demand.
The highest temperature so far this year was experienced by both Coningsby in Lincolnshire on June 25 and Chertsey in Surrey on June 10 when the mercury climbed to 32.2C. If the 32.2C mark is passed this week, it would be the first time that the UK has recorded its hottest day of the year in September since 2016, when a high of 34.4C was recorded in Kent.
Prior to that, the UK had not registered its hottest day of the year in September since 1991.
The spell of hot weather follows a miserable summer, with one of the wettest Julys on record and a mixed bag of sunshine and rain in August.
Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan said: “A lot of people will probably think of the summer just gone as being pretty non-exceptional, pretty disappointing if you had plans in the UK. This week, it looks likely that we’ll see the highest temperature of the year so far. We may well be close to some record-breaking temperatures in the next few days.”
He added: “The highest UK September temperature we’ve ever seen still stands at 35.6C. We’re very unlikely to see temperatures quite that high but probably a 33C is on the cards, so we are not too far away from the UK record.”
Forecasters said the change in weather is due to a flow of warm air between a high pressure area in continental Europe and low pressure in the Atlantic.
But health experts have issued a warning about the surge in temperatures. An amber heat health alert has been issued across much of England for the rest of the week, meaning that the impact of the hot weather is “likely to be felt across the whole health service”.
Dr Yvonne Young, London regional deputy director at the UK Health Security Agency said: “We want everyone to enjoy the hot weather safely but high temperatures can have significant health impacts on some, particularly over 65s or anyone with a pre-existing health condition. When the heat rises, people are at increased risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can lead to serious consequences.
“I would urge Londoners to check on vulnerable family and neighbours including older people, children and people with heart and lung conditions. You can help make sure they are protected from the heat and know how to keep as cool as possible.
“Simple steps include staying hydrated and taking water with you when travelling, finding shade, staying out of the sun when UV rays are strongest between 11am and 3pm, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen, and closing blinds or curtains to block out the sun; small things which can all make a difference.”