Hottest day in Wales as summer sales boom
Saturday has been the hottest day of the year so far in Wales, as retailers say soaring temperatures are helping boost the economy.
The hottest place was in Powys where temperatures reached 30C (86F) with parts of south Wales just behind.
And the weather is offering a helping hand to many businesses.
Shops said items such as paddling pools, barbecues and outdoor furniture had been snapped up and more holidaymakers were booking breaks.
Major events were also enjoying bumper attendances.
Llangollen's international eisteddfod recorded a 40% rise in visitors and tens of thousands were expected at the Wales National Air Show in Swansea over the weekend.
End Quote Jen McDonald The Welsh Mountain Zoo
Our chimps, spider monkeys, lemurs, gibbons and European brown bears are all receiving cool treats”
The Wakestock music festival near Abersoch, Gwynedd - which last year was a washout - and Cardiff's food and drink festival were hoping for a similar boost.
The Met Office confirmed that Saturday was the hottest day so far, with Llysdinam near Llandrindod Wells recording the highest temperature of 30C (86F)
Nowhere else topped 30C but several places were close to it including Usk in Monmouthshire and Tredegar in Blaenau Gwent which both recorded temperatures over 29C (84F).
More hot weather is expected on Sunday but temperatures are expected to be slightly lower.
Thousands of people headed to the coast at the weekend to make the most of the sunshine.
No major incidents were reported on Saturday but the RNLI in Rhyl, Denbighshire, said it was kept busy with parents becoming separated from their children and people being cut off by the fast incoming tide.
Meanwhile, shops, supermarkets and online retailers said the hot weather meant demand for summer goods was significantly higher than last year, when July saw unseasonably heavy rainfall and floods.
Department store John Lewis in Cardiff said sales of outdoor furniture and barbecues had climbed more than three-fold.
Fashion accessories have also performed well, increasing 74% on last year, with sunglasses especially popular.
"This week's hot weather has resulted in good sales for all things summer," said Chris Earnshaw, managing director at the Cardiff store.
Summer sales at Amazon
- 816% rise in paddling pools from 12 July 2012 to 12 July 2013
- 519% rise in sprinklers and sprayers
- 186% rise in hoses
- 305% rise in barbeques
- 543% rise in patio chairs and loungers
- 145% rise in sun cream, after sun and self-tanning lotion
- Source: Amazon
"Outdoor furniture and barbecues have been extremely popular this week, with sales increasing by an amazing 340% versus last year.
"Recent sporting events such as Wimbledon and the Lions tour have encouraged customers to get active outdoors with sports equipment seeing sales increase by 60% against last year."
Morrisons said it expected sales of burgers to rise by 500% this weekend with the weather ripe for barbeques.
Christopher Ellis from the supermarket said: "We expect to sell 300,000 burgers this week and we expect to sell 700,000 packs of sausages over the weekend."
Online retail giant Amazon, which has a large distribution warehouse in Swansea, reported huge rises in sales of summer stock.
It said demand for paddling pools had gone up by more than 800% compared to July last year, while sprinkler and outdoor furniture sales were both up by more than 500%.
Elsewhere, it is shaping up to be a good summer for ice cream producers and sellers.
Mary Hursey of Mary's Farmhouse, a sorbet and ice cream maker in Crymych, Pembrokeshire, said demand had increased 30% in comparison to this time last year.
"We are distributing 3,000 litres (of ice cream) a week instead of 2,000 litres," said Mrs Hursey, whose company has 400 customers and 11 staff.
"Obviously, we have been busy and everybody has had to work a little bit harder.
"We employ students to help us over the summer and last year we hired one, but this year we have three."
The Wales Tourism Alliance said last minute short breaks had been on the rise since the sun reappeared, with coastal and rural areas seeing most visitors.
"This week we have had a really good rise in the bookings," said caravan park owner Tim McIlveen.
"We get a lot more people thinking about buying caravans and staying in the UK for their holidays.
"Overall it's a very good story for the moment."
Meanwhile, Jen McDonald of Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay, Conwy, said it was coming up with innovative ways of keeping its animals cool in the hot weather.
"Our chimps, spider monkeys, lemurs, gibbons and European brown bears are all receiving cool treats," she said.
"They're not ice lollies as such but fruit encased in iced water. They get the goodness of the fruit and the iced water keeps them cool."
Ms McDonald said the zoo's visitor numbers had increased too.
"Visitors are up 16% on this time last year and in the first week of July alone we had 40 groups of visitors," she added.