Traders say the Easter holidays have been a bit of a washout after the miserable weather resulted in a slump in business.

Easter signals the beginning of the season with the first major influx of visitors.

But the soggy spring, gloomy skies and below average temperatures has meant the season has not had a good start.

It's not all doom and gloom however – there's apparently a mini heatwave on the way, although it's poorly timed with the new school term starting.

Councillor Richard Kosior, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council tourism spokesman says the poor weather may have discouraged day trippers from heading to the resort for a quick getaway.

He said: “Day trippers will have been affected because they make their move on the spur of the moment.

“They'd think twice about visiting Weymouth and its glorious beach if the weather is miserable.”

However, Cllr Kosior is confident the resort has benefited from those who booked trips in advance.

He says visitor numbers will likely improve as the weather starts ‘warming up’ and added: “It is arriving late. We have been blasted with cold weather through February and March – looking back at March and April last year the weather was a lot better.

“Thank the lord the weather is improving because it saps the good nature out of everyone. As soon as the sun comes out you just need to walk through the town to see people’s spirits have been lifted.”

Businesses in Weymouth which rely on holiday trade say they have felt the pinch.

Tom Steadman of Tom and Erin’s gift shop on the Esplanade said: “From January through to now it has been very quiet, which is all down to the weather. Obviously, the sun has started to come out and it makes a massive difference.

"If the sun comes out everyone does well, it’s as simple as that. We are very confident and positive the weather will pick up and that the next couple of weeks will be great."

Kim Gay, manageress of Rossi’s ice cream parlour on the Esplanade said: “We have had a couple of nice days, but some days have been awful. When it’s like that we have to shut our windows otherwise we get soaked.

“Sunday was sunny; when the sun’s out you can open the windows and we don’t stop selling ice creams.

“We are hoping for a good summer. But it has been a bad start to the season.”

Next week schoolchildren will return to school, but Kim said she isn't too worried because the business is well supported by local residents.

She added: “I don’t know where we would be without our locals.”

Melanie Rush, who runs West Hill Donkeys on Weymouth Beach said she wasn’t fazed by the poor weather.

She said: “The weather has sent its challenges, but we have made the best of it. We have had some busy days and some half days, but two halves make a whole. That’s just the way it works sometimes.

"It is what we expect we are in a seasonal business.”

Francis Drake, a borough councillor who owns Antonio’s Café on St Mary’s Street suggested Easter should be on a fixed date.

He explained: “It is at the wrong time of year. Easter should be on a set date and not move about. If we had Good Friday in the middle of April then dogs would still be allowed on the beach, and it would be a lot better.”

In West Bay, the weather wasn't the only problem facing traders as a number of car parks were closed for resurfacing works.

At Lulworth, the wet weather did little to put off people who booked into Durdle Door Holiday Park.

Park general manager Rebecca Williams said 'the beauty of the Jurassic Coast' shone through the miserable forecast.

She explained: “Despite the drizzle and damp, Durdle Door Holiday Park was fully booked for the Easter weekend.

"We’ve seen normal occupancy for this time of year through the rest of the school holidays and it’s been great to see so many families and friends enjoying themselves.

"Of course we are looking forward to the blue skies and sunshine, but the beauty of the Jurassic Coast shines through whatever the weather.”