Third quarter profit warnings jumped to their highest level since the height of the financial crisis as firms were battered by record rainfall and economic woes, figures reveal.
The number of UK stock market listed companies warning over profits rose to 68 between July and September, according to a report by accountancy giant Ernst & Young.
This was a third more than a year earlier and the highest third quarter since 2008, in the dark days of the credit crunch and banking sector meltdown.
The wash-out early summer weather was partly to blame, with the highest number of companies citing the weather since the winter freeze of 2010-11.
But the economy appeared to have the biggest impact on performance, with the report revealing that firms warning over profits were knocked by weak UK demand, a slowdown in global markets and growing risks to the economic outlook.
Support services firms were the worst affected, with profit warnings in the sector rising to their highest for more than three years in a sign of government and private sector cutbacks.
Alan Hudson, head of Ernst & Young's UK and Ireland restructuring practice, said: "Companies in this sector in particular are in the austerity firing line and this quarter's spike in profit warnings could reflect the trend towards companies cutting their cloth to match new realities."
Manufacturing firms were also under pressure as a slowdown in previously fast growing Asian markets and the strain on consumer and defence markets took their toll.
But despite a raft of recent high profile retail collapses, there were only three profit warnings from general retailers in the third quarter.
The UK is widely expected to have pulled out of its double dip recession in the third quarter, with economists predicting figures this week will reveal growth of 0.6% between July and September. But experts have warned the recovery will be weak and fragile.