Long, wet summer ruins a bottom line

Bikini boutiques and outdoor cinema operators are emerging alongside those with flooded homes as some of the worst damaged by the La Nina-beset summer.Ongoing rain has brought Wollongong's fledgling Garden Cinema to the brink of financial collapse, with five of its 10 sessions so far cancelled.Jill Keyte, managing director of cinema organisers High as a Keyte, said two films had been rescheduled to the middle of this week, but it may not be possible to recoup losses, particularly if rain continued."I've been running outdoor cinema for nine years - I've never experienced [cancellations] to this degree," said Ms Keyte, who brought the cinema to Wollongong's Botanic Garden for the first time this year."At the moment we're making a loss - we're not going to get paid for running the season. If we can't run this week it will be unlikely [to continue next summer]."It has rained (at least 1mm) on 10 of the first 13 days of February at Bellambi - Wollongong's nearest weather station since the closure of the university's gauge in 2008.The late summer downpours have offered no relief for 29-year-old Corrimal swimsuit store Cossies R Us, which returned tens of thousands of dollars worth of unsold costumes to suppliers earlier in the season, when rainy and overcast conditions kept all but overseas-bound buyers away.Owner Karen Lepard, who took over the business 18 months ago, had ordered supplies based on previous years' sales figures. Even with the returns, the shop remained overstocked."Last year I was selling a rash vest an hour. I don't think I've sold 10 this whole season - there's no sun to protect [against]," Mrs Lepard said. "I'm fortunate some of the bigger companies that I deal with have been kind enough to take [stock] back, otherwise I wouldn't be here."Analysis of long-term weather data is problematic in the Illawarra since the University of Wollongong weather station closed in 2008, ending 38 years of records.During that period, the coldest February occurred in 1985, when the average maximum was 23.6 degrees.Temperatures in Bellambi have averaged 22.1 so far this February, the lowest since records began there in April 1997.The outdoor cinema will screen the latest instalment of Mission Impossible and Puss In Boots tomorrow and Thursday respectively.See www.imb.com.au/gardencinema for more information.

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