Cookshops and housewares stockists are expressing a mixture of relief and some frustration at the earliest reopening dates of April 12 for non-essential retailers in England, and April 26 for Scotland.
Martin Coles-Evans, owner of Hargreaves of Buxton comments: “We are delighted that Boris has given us the green light to reopen on April 12. This last lockdown over winter has been a real strain and we are all looking to get back to some normality.” He adds: “It would have been better for business if we could have opened around Easter, but the virus is still at high levels and staying safe is more important than anything else.”
As Hargreaves continues to provide online personal shopping appointments (via Facebook) alongside ecommerce, the next few weeks will be “very busy” gearing up for reopening, according to Martin. He reports: “We have been busy with virtual meetings with our reps and agents so we can be fully stocked for when we reopen. Over the next few weeks we will be merchandising all the new stock that is arriving daily, when we have a chance between processing phone and online sales.”
Martin concludes: “We have been really busy with our online shop but the digital interaction is no substitute to meeting in person and that is what we are looking forward to most of all.”
Punit Shah, owner of Cooks Boutique, Letchworth is also getting set for a busy few weeks of preparation. He states: “I am glad a provisional date has been given by the Government for when we can open up; it allows all retailers to prepare for reopening. From what we were hearing before the announcement I had expected to open at the end of March and April 12 is not too far from that.”
Thinking ahead, Punit adds: “Between now and reopening we plan to order stock that we are running low on and hope the suppliers have sufficient stock. We also plan to finish minor repairs in store and to do a deep clean as the shop would have been closed for almost four months when we open.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement (on Tuesday February 23) that the earliest non-essential retailers could open is April 26 met was met with frustration from Bira (The British Independent Retailers Association). The association has called for The Scottish Government to re-think the date.
Liane Phillips, owner of housewares stockist Marchmont Hardware in Edinburgh is optimistic that the shop’s many loyal customers will be eager to return: “I feel pretty positive that the customers will come back when we reopen and hopefully we will see the much needed pennies coming in again. As much as I wish it was a few weeks earlier I hope that the decision benefits everyone.”
However, Liane faces a dilemma regarding stock and admits she might not be ready if the reopening date was brought forward. She explains: “I am very concerned about stock levels. At the moment we do not even have enough coming in to cover the bills and that has the knock on effect that you have no money to settle with suppliers so you have no credit to use. Ultimately if you do not have the right stock at the tight time there is a massive hit to sales.”
Despite homewares coming under the retailers allowed to offer click and collect during the current lockdown in Scotland, Liane reports that sales are low.
* For more comments on re-openings in England see
* Northern Ireland’s lockdown restrictions are in place until at least April 1 and will be reviewed on March 18, and the Welsh Government is due to review its lockdown restrictions on March 12.