Britons prepare to see out the Big Chill

Britons have reacted to the big freeze which finally hit the UK, sending temperatures plummeting and covering large parts of the country in snow.

Car accessory retailer Halfords reports drivers stocking up on break down kits, de-icers, anti-freeze, scrapers and snow shovels.

Householders are also determined not to get caught out with a rush on bags of salt to ensure paths and driveways remain clear.

Weather forecasters have warned that the Arctic blast could last for the rest of the month, with sub-zero temperatures predicted for large swathes of the country.

The Met Office and the Highways Agency both issued Amber Alerts, the second highest rating for cold weather. They also warned of transport disruption as cold temperatures refreeze thawing snow, leading to black ice that makes roads extremely hazardous.

Halfords said sales of snow shovels were at their highest ever, while demand for de-icer sales was quadruple this time last year, de-icing salt was up 155 per cent, anti-freeze up 94 per cent, and purchases of ice scrapers increased by 75 per cent. Screenwash, a staple need for motorists in winter conditions, is also selling strongly.

Halfords winter products expert Mark Dolphin said: “Snow and Freezing weather is always very disruptive for motorists. There’s always a huge demand for all the products that help people stay on the road. It’s not just the de-icing products that are needed, a lot more batteries and wiper blades fail so our store colleagues are very busy replacing these for customers.”

A survey carried out by Halfords at the start of winter found more than four in ten (42 per cent) claimed to be better organised than last year, when the country was hit by the lowest temperatures for 15 years. Thousands of car owners have splashed out on winter tyres and taken advantage of garages offering “winter checks”.

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Brits brace for snow in spades

Halfords are rushing snow shovels into stores in a major operation to keep motorists on the move.

As wintry weather makes its way across the UK, Brits fearful of being caught out by snow have been racing to buy snow shovels.

Halfords, which this year has ranged the foldable snow shovels for the first time, have been forced to order five times more shovels than originally forecast due to popular demand.

The high street motor parts and accessories retailer also reported snow chains flying off the shelves and saw sales of snow socks and traction tracks, also new this year and designed to help tyres grip in frozen conditions, soar.

Customers were also stocking up on salt, deicer and antifreeze.

Mark Dolphin, Halfords Winter Motoring Expert said: “There’s always a rush for winter products when the cold weather comes. Unfortunately many leave it too late. Good preparation can help avoid breakdowns, accidents and save money.

“Attitudes towards safe winter motoring are changing. We even sold a surprising number of ice scrapers and antifreeze during the October heatwave as people began to prepare for winter in advance.”

A recent survey by Halfords revealed that 42 per cent of motorists thought they were better prepared for winter this year.

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Millions of Motorists Face Costly Winter Reality Check

Almost ten million motorists are risking breakdowns in freezing conditions by failing to prepare for the hazards of winter driving.

With gales, frost and even snow predicted to hit Britain by the end of this month, a worrying 32% of car owners have neglected to make the simplest check on the level of anti-freeze in the engine or top up the windscreen wash, according to a new survey for Halfords*.

Over 60% fail to inspect tyres, one in 12 (8%) don’t examine their windscreen wipers or their vehicle lights and 18% don’t know what condition their battery is in.

While the figures are stark, the position is actually an improvement on last year. Following three harsh winters, more drivers are making preparations for a cold snap. Four in ten (42%) claim they are better organised than last year, when the lowest temperatures for 15 years caused massive travel disruption.

Some 5% of car owners say they have already bought winter tyres while thousands have taken advantage of garages offering “winter checks”.

Car, leisure and cycling retailer Halfords said it had ordered in extra supplies of winter motoring products including snow chains, snow socks, snow shovels, de-icer, ice scrapers and screen-wash effective in temperatures down to minus 20C.

Mark Dolphin, Halfords Winter Motoring Expert said: “There’s always a rush for winter products when the cold weather comes. Unfortunately many leave it too late. Good preparation can help avoid breakdowns, accidents and save money.

“Attitudes towards safe winter motoring are changing. We even sold a surprising number of ice scrapers and anti-freeze during the October heatwave as people began to prepare for winter in advance.”

Halfords offers a free Five Point Car Health Check where a trained fitter will check your lights, blades, screenwash, oil and battery condition. Halfords Autocentres offers a more comprehensive 12-point Winter Inspection, which addresses the parts most at risk including tyres, alternator, starter motor and antifreeze.

In a report into the chaos caused by last winter’s big freeze the House of Commons Transport Committee put the cost of the transport disruption which left millions stranded at £280m a day, while the cost to the country’s economy was put at £6 billion. Millions of workers also found themselves losing pay as a result of not being able to get to work.

The Highways Agency has already launched a campaign to encourage drivers to prepare for winter weather.

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