Retailers on the south coast were forced to shut up shop yesterday as flash flooding drenched parts of Dorset and Hampshire.

Shops in Bournemouth were hit hard with retailers including Beales, Debenhams, Primark and River Island town centre were among those that had to shut.

Staff at Jessops on Gervis Place watched as water surged up the road. Sales assistant Richard Pring Adams told the Bournemouth Echo: “There was a Wilts and Dorset bus on it and it was forced into the air. It was a bit insane.”

Clarks in the Square had to close the ground floor, although the upstairs kids department remained open.

Assistant manager Angie Phillips said: “We had about an inch of water across the whole floor space. At least we should make a killing on wellies.”

Castlepoint Shopping Centre had its stairwells flooded and shoppers experienced long delays getting in and out of the car park.

Poole’s Dolphin Shopping Centre had to be evacuated due to the flooding. It later re-opened when the rain had started to clear.