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Winter will almost always bring its fair share of high winds, rain and snow, and this year is no exception. Regular exposure to the elements takes its toll on shops, houses and other properties so The Retail Mutual has prepared these handy hints and tips to help you keep your premises in tip-top condition.

Watch the weather

Keep up to date with the weather forecast to ensure you are prepared for the unexpected – check the Met Office website or listen to your local radio for regular updates.

Carrying out a few small checks around your property now could save you a lot of trouble later on. Here are a few things you might look out for:


Do not put yourself at risk by climbing onto your roof if you are not comfortable doing so. Look out for cracked, broken or missing tiles, or if you have a felt flat roof check for hairline cracks and loose sides. Prevention is better than cure, so if you suspect any problems contact a roofing specialist to repair any damage as soon as possible to avoid water getting into the roof.

Check for any damp patches, in particular in upstairs rooms, as these can often be a sign of a leaky roof.  If you cannot find the source of any new damp patches then seek help from a professional.

Gutters, gullies and drains

Fallen leaves or snow often fill gutters; keep gutters and drains clear so that the rain water can drain away. In the cold weather the trapped water can cause the pipes to crack and burst.  Also check that drain pipes are properly fixed in place.


If you are a shop owner, try to keep the pathway outside your shop clear of fallen leaves, snow and ice where possible. In cold weather make sure you grit the paths to prevent customers from slipping or falling. Please avoid using flattened cardboard boxes.

Inside your Shop

Try to keep door mats flush to the door to capture any excess snow or water bought into the shop from your customers’ shoes or clothing. If possible, have an employee regularly check around the shop for any puddles and make sure they are cleaned up immediately. Don’t forget to display relevant warning signs.

Unoccupied Buildings

Vacant properties are particularly vulnerable during the winter months so it is important that you inform your insurer or cover provider straightaway if a building becomes unoccupied. Any vacant property must be regularly inspected, secure and maintained.

Burst or frozen pipes

If a burst pipe leaks and water comes gushing through the ceiling, it can cause serious damage to your shop and its contents. Make sure you know where the water shut-off valve is so that you can quickly isolate the supply in an emergency. Never be tempted to switch off your central heating; a thermostat setting of about 12-15°C should prevent even the coldest parts of your system from reaching freezing point. If you are away for an extended period and do not want to leave your central heating on, drain the water system. And don’t forget, lagging your pipes may prevent a claim.


Make sure your boiler has been serviced recently. Use a Gas Safe registered engineer and try to arrange your service before the cold weather arrives so that you are not left without any heating during the colder months.

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