West Dorset retailer Cilla and Camilla had “ a great first week back” at its boutique department store in Beauminster (one of its four stores). Its Cookshop in Sherborne re-opened this week (on Tuesday June 23). The retailer has welcomed confirmation from the Government that its café (at Beauminster) will open for table service from July 4, encouraging more visitors.
Co-owner Richard Baker recently shared his views on retailing after lockdown, telling HousewaresNews.net: “We have been very cautious in our forecasts. As well as our very loyal local customers, we benefit greatly from those who visit Sherborne for leisure purposes, and from those who travel in from surrounding villages.”
Richard recognises that it will take time for people to get “comfortable” with travelling again as restrictions ease further. He states: “We’re in the fortunate position of being strong enough to wait for that business to return and don’t really expect to be back anything like close to last year until Christmas.”
Richard looks to the future, observing: ”There’s clearly going to be behavioural change in the short term as we impose restrictions on customers. But, I suspect much of that change will be genuinely short to medium term and in most cases retail life will return to largely how it was – minus quite a few more multiple retailers whose trading models were too weak to survive – largely a function of too much expensive space in moribund locations, and with little to differentiate themselves.”
Thinking ahead, Richard continues: “A couple features of post-lockdown life that I think will survive would be a much greater use of card payment and more restaurants offering takeaway alongside full service. But, beyond that, I suspect that in a year or two’s time things will look and feel very similar to 2019 and we certainly won’t have seen a great seismic, structural change that some talk about but rarely define in detail.”
He adds: “I’m saying the above in the context of all our shops being (very deliberately) in thriving market towns in pleasant, rural West Dorset, where many of the challenges retail has faced over the last decade are in large part not relevant.”
Top: Cilla and Camilla’s Cookshop in Sherbourne re-opened this week.