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Saturday 04.04.2020 | Name days: Valda, Herta, Ārvalda, Ārvalds

Warmest winter anyone can remember is wreaking havoc on Lithuania’s nature and store shelves

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Lithuania, snowless winter, climate change

Illustrative picture

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

This winter, so abnormally warm in Lithuania, is bewildering everyone and is wreaking havoc both in the nature and on the store shelves.

Tangible aftermaths

 «It is really an extraordinary winter. I cannot remember seeing so much greenery in the forests. Some trees and plants are budding, forget-me-nots are sprouting and moths and butterflies can be spotted flickering on a sunny day,» Erlandas Paplauskas, chief ecologist of the Pajūris regional park, told BNN. Meanwhile, some winter goods retailers are lamenting that the winter has put all their sale plans in tatters. «For example, sales of snow sleds this winter plummeted 8 times, year-on-year.  However, shoppers buy gloves and headware pretty well,» Vilma Drulienė, head of commerce at retailer Maxima said.

Forests are teeming with life

But let’s wade into the nearest forest first. The verdant moss lures to step on the nature’s luxurious green carpet, caress the vegetation and sniff the blooms of the forget-me-nots. Make sure you do not crush a crawling dormant beetle with your boots! The sense of spring around the corner is lingering in the air! «Such winter is a paradise for all invertebrates like insects. Some of them haven’t even fallen asleep this winter. It is hard to predict how the Mother Nature will react to the record-high January and February temperatures, but there will certainly be increase in some kinds of insects. The populations of cockchafers and dragonflies will grow especially fast, I believe. As a result, more pesticides will be used until nature’s self-regulating mechanism kicks in. With more various insects around, there will likely be more birds to feed on them,»Paplauskas prognosticated to BNN.

Gardeners are commencing spring season works

Echoing, Lithuanian gardeners are already planning their first spring-season works in local gardens. «Although it sounds weirdly to many that some weeding and hoeing can be done already now preparing the land for sowing seeds and et cetera, however that is the reality we have,» Rima Šimaitė and Rimvydas Šimaitis, founders of «Magiški sodai» (Magic gardens), specialising in landscape designing, told Lithuanian media. «Already now the bulbs of tulips can be planted, as well as petunias, forget-me-nots and other flowers,» they added.

How to check if the shrubs, the trees and the other plants survived the winter? «The simplest way is to break away a twig and see if it contains any signs of life,» both gave the tip. Retailer Maxima has reported that sales of saplings and seeds have been record high this winter. «For example, sales of flower bulbs and seeds throughout early December and mid-February increased fourfold,» V. Drulienė noted.

Lithuanians seek winter escapes abroad

With winter nowhere to be seen outside the window, Lithuanians do not postpone their winter holiday plans for next winter.

«It seems that many Lithuanians fond of winter leisure seek the amusement in foreign winter resorts. Sales of travel accessories, including sport bags, have risen 25 percent. In comparison with last winter, the sales of boys’ skiing suits went up twofold and ten-fold for girls. Meanwhile, the sales saw a three-fold increase for adults,» the Maxima representative said.

You wonder what is the most popular item in winter on Maxima shelves? According to V. Drulienė, the incontestable winner are tangerines, followed by lemons, ginger, hot wine beverages and teas.

Only light shoes on demand

Živilė Bložienė, head of sales for the Baltic States at «Deichmann», noted that this unusally warm winter is not «significantly» ill-effecting «Deichmann» sales, yet sales of fur-covered shoes are on  a steep decline. «In our assortment, light footwear prevails. It suits well modest Central European winters, such as the one we are having in Lithuania,» she said.  That Lithuanians do not rush now to stores for winter shoes before the start of a winter suggests that the shopping habits have changed, she said.

Outdoor skiing tracks in trouble

Meanwhile, the outdoor skiing tracks are languishing this winter too. Just some of them got adapted to the winter and are offering summer-type artificial ski tracks. According to Kristina Beinorytė, interim director of Tourism Information Center in Anykščiai, a town in central Lithuania, the local skiing track, so popular among Lithuanians in snowy freezing winters, this winter has become a green patch of vegetation. «The only amusement we are offering this winter is the summer sledge track, which we open only on weekends. It is kind of disappointing, as we invested quite some money in the renewal of the tracks. It seems the season will be loss-making to us,» she told local media.

«As the weather forecasts for the weeks to come do not promise any temperature plunges, we may keep the winter facility closed for the entire season, which never happened before,» she feared.

Indoor winter facilities are thriving

However, indoor ice arenas are thriving. According to Artūras Blažinskas, head of an ice-skating rink in Panevėžys in eastern Lithuania, the sport facility gathers record crowds this year. «This season is really exceptional for us. The arena has become a hotspot for all locals and is especially liked by the  youth. We just perhaps need to organise discotheques at night to fully tap on its popularity,» Blažinskas quipped when speaking to local media.

Interestingly, those who do not venture to open the doors of local ice-skating rinks tend to increasingly invest in their wellbeing acquiring home gym equipment. «The sales of the kind of goods upped 25 percent. Just the sales of dumbbells and barbells went up twice this winter,»Julius Bujanauskas, head of marketing of e-store, noted.

A disastrous season for heating companies

This abnormally warm winter poses especially big challenges to heat providers. «Compared to the previous seasons, we sold 1080 MW of heat less this winter, which translates into 68 thousand euros. It will be a loss-making year for us,» Jonas Barzdis, director of a heating company in Kretinga, told BNN.

Meanwhile, Gediminas Valinevičius, director of a public utilities company in neighbouring Palanga, rejoiced that the company has not spent this winter «a single cent» for salt used to defrost local pavements and streets. «I have the feeling the late autumn is still lingering. However, spring must be already around the corner. All the signs show it approaching,»he told BNN.

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