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Retailers get set for lockdown in England

Cookshops and housewares stockists are preparing for the second national lockdown in England starting on Thursday (November 5). BRC’s Helen Dickinson has referred to the timing as “a nightmare before Christmas” for retailers. Bira’s ceo Andrew Goodacre commented: “This second lockdown could not be at a worse time for independent retailers as we approach the crucial festive period. Christmas shopping was already starting and will now end up being carried out online.”

However, the Government states that: ‘Non-essential retail can remain open for delivery to customers and click and collect.’ Garden centres (along with supermarkets and food shops) are allowed to remain open, but a full list of ‘essential retailers’ has not yet been released. Hardware stores (many of which stock housewares) were classed as ‘essential” during the last lockdown.

During the last national lockdown, homewares retailers were allowed to reopen, along with garden centres, from mid May. has asked the Cabinet Office whether homewares retailers are classified as essential for the second lockdown. A Cabinet Office spokesperson has replied stating that: ‘further guidance will be issued before the lockdown begins on Thursday’.

In the meantime, cookshops and housewares stockists in England are preparing to shut their doors at the end of trade tomorrow (November 4) for four weeks until December 2. Many independents (such as Surrey’s Art of Living) have extended their shops’ trading hours between Monday to Wednesday this week to enable consumers to stock up on essentials to prepare food and drink at home.

In North London, Holly Wilson of Prep Cookshop and Richard Dare is encouraging customers via social media to ‘come and get Christmas shopping before we close’. From Thursday, the shops will be offering Click and Collect, followed by local delivery and then nationwide delivery as soon as their ecommerce site is up and running (see Holly’s latest From the frontline column in Progressive Housewares).

Above: Prep Cookshop, Stoke Newington will offer Click and Collect.
Above: Prep Cookshop, Stoke Newington will offer Click and Collect.

In West Wickham, The Kitchen Range’s manager Lucy Richards told “We have put all our efforts in to an online click and collect service. We are creating a whole online catalogue including shooting hundreds of lines to create succinct imagery.” She continues:” We are running a delivery service alongside all of this, and keeping it carbon neutral by delivering by bike.” The shop is also going ahead with rebranding with a new shop front and plans to donate a percentage of all December sales to Crisis. “Hopefully, we open,” adds Lucy.

Above: Social media notice from Woodbridge Kitchen Company.
Above: Social media notice from Woodbridge Kitchen Company.

Woodbridge Kitchen Company is asking customers to ‘think about supporting local independents before going elsewhere online’. As in the last lockdown, it is offering free local delivery and will now post or courier to further afield at cost. The shop has assured customers that it is “well stocked” for daily essentials and gifts.

Above: Lisa Austin with local customer AJ Pritchard outside Brambles.
Above: Lisa Austin with local customer AJ Pritchard outside Brambles.

In Audlem, Lisa Austin, owner of Brambles Cookshop is among those bracing for substantial loses over the next four weeks. She explains: “I would expect to lose 80% of Christmas sales. I was on a roll over the last few weeks with people buying local, although all of the big shopping events locally have been cancelled.” She continues: “I have an online store, but have noticed more spending on search engines like Google from the big stores, putting independents that are trying to sell online in a more difficult position.”

Bira’s Andrew Goodacre has called for a ‘shop out to help out’ scheme to be available for when shops reopen.

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