An exclusive members’ survey by the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) reveals that many business owners – including cookshops and housewares stockists – have experienced ‘better than expected’ trade following the reopening of non-essential shop in England on June 15.
In its member survey, more than one fifth (22.3%) of Bira members enjoyed more than 100% better sales than they would have expected pre-Covid-19. Some15% had between 75-100% of expected sales compared to before the crisis. Just 11% had only taken 0-25% of predicted sales.
Upbeat reports from cookshops and housewares stockist included that of Jerry Fruen, owner of Ma Cuisine in Devizes, who described trade on re-opening as: “Excellent – it felt like the first week of December. Customers are so pleased that we are open. Just hope it continues.”
Lucy Richards, manager at The Kitchen Range, West Wickham concurred: “Sales were double our usual figures. Customers were delighted to be able to shop.”
In York, Jo Asquith, co-owner of Frankie & Jonny’s enthused: “We have been very busy with great support from the local community. Everyone was very happy to see us back open and it felt good to be back.”
Judith Blatch, co-owner of Winch & Blatch, Sudbury also highlighted a warm reception from those customers coming out to shop, observing: “It was generally quiet, however many of the customers were relieved we are now back open.”
Consumers were also cautious to flock to reopened shops in Downham Market. Jim Carlile of Reeds Homestore acknowledged lower footfall but good sales. He described the store’s re-opening as: “Not as busy as anticipated – footfall is about 50% down from pre-lockdown – but despite that, sales were good and customers that did come in were glad to see us back up and running again.”
Meanwhile, Damian Clarke of Stringers Department Store, Lytham reported: “Demand has been strong, customers and staff have adapted well.”
Bira’s member survey also found that almost 90% (89.3%) of its respondents (across membership categories) had implemented social distancing measures inside their premises. 63% had some sort of social distancing measures outside the premises – and had better sales because of it.
Looking ahead, some 30% of respondents feel ‘fully prepared’ for a second lockdown (national or regional), while 49.5% feel ‘somewhat prepared’ if restrictions are implemented again.
Bira’s ceo Andrew Goodacre welcomed the news of the reopening of the hospitality sector in England on July 4, but says “more help is needed for independent retailers moving forward, such as a reduction in VAT.”
Top: Stringers Department Store in Lytham has seen strong demand since re-opening.