Client spotlight: Non Essential Retail

With clients in both the retail and hospitality sector, we have witnessed first-hand the impact the last year has had on said businesses. No two businesses have been affected in the same way and every business owner has their own story to tell.

To the relief of many, non- essential retailers were permitted to reopen their doors last month.  Prior to which we were fortunate to speak to one of our clients, the owner of an established, award-winning, gift shop in St Ives, to talk about how her business was impacted by the pandemic, what she did to adapt, and any lessons learned from the experience.

Kerry’s Story

Footfall in the shop was steadily declining as news of the pandemic spread across the nation.  

“I remember being in the shop the day lockdown was announced and saying to those few that had visited, I’d see them in three weeks’ time– we’ll be back to normal soon enough.”

The shop itself is well established with a loyal and supportive customer base. With a strong community feel, customers would want the shop the survive and so Kerry knew it was her processes she must adapt to navigate what lay ahead.

Funding Support

It soon became apparent her three weeks was unrealistic and the lifting of any restrictions was going to be a slow and lengthy process. This was underpinned by Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement detailing the Furlough Scheme, Business Rates Relief and access to Business Grants amongst other measures.

Not wishing to drain her personal savings, Kerry sought support from the various measures and agrees that these were key to survival. Kerry furloughed two members of staff and received a Business grant.

Responding to the closure of non-essential retail

Sales Channels

Kerry entered lockdown with a website she had little control over alongside a Facebook and Instagram page which were soon to become her main income streams.  She hung a notice on her shop front detailing how to get in touch, rebuilt her own e-commerce website entirely from scratch, and introduced a personal door to door delivery service to local customers.

Customers were able to order products online through her website or via her social media pages. Options for delivery included postal, click and collect from the shop or door to door delivery.

“It brought a whole new dynamic to the shop; I now know a lot more names of faces and people know, regardless of their circumstances, I will find a way for them to continue shopping with me”

Upon reopening the shop, Kerry has continued selling online through her website and offering customers the same variety of delivery options.

Stock levels

In anticipation of a national lockdown, Kerry stopped buying stock in March and has since changed her buying strategy entirely. It is now much more considered and done on a little and often basis. Planning is short term rather than long term, currently.

Cashflow needs to reflow before restocking.

Lockdown learnings

Kerry emanates positivity, talking to her was a joy. The past year has been no mean feat and whilst reflecting on the past year her parting words were “we must not take anything for granted, anything can happen so remain cautious, listen to your gut and trust your instinct.”

Since speaking with Kerry, her shop has now reopened.

It was so good to reopen and as our very first customer walked through the door he said, ‘thank god you’re back’ – we were off to a flying start! The first week was super busy and then it calmed down. The town of St Ives has had a couple of very quiet days but then the weather doesn’t help. I’m so pleased to see all the old faces back again and some new; their support has been phenomenal and really appreciated. We’re looking to the future with renewed spirit.