Keeping Shop from Home: The High Street in Lockdown
Posted on 30th May 2020 at 17:14
There are so many stories around right now, during the Coronavirus pandemic. We’re hearing stories from the amazing carers to the police, shop workers, and those who’ve lost their lives and livelihoods in this global pandemic.
Our thoughts are with you and your families and we do hope this blog finds you in the best health and spirits possible.
This is our story, from the high street.
Ours is an area of the economy that has been thriving and struggling in equal measure for many years. The rise of the internet has certainly been a cause of this, but it’s certainly not a bad thing. We understand that the internet is here to stay and we plan to get online more over the coming months.
The internet has been a saviour for so many people on many levels in the past few months, and it’s certainly not hurt Amazon’s share price! People like the simplicity of using the internet. They like ordering online and they’ve seen the convenience of it over the past few months.
On the flip side of that, running a high street business is tough and lockdown has been devastating for many of us.
We’ve been closed since March and we’re missing our customers and trade dearly. We’re closed and coping with savings and cash reserves; many haven’t been so lucky.
We’ve seen many businesses close and they will not open back up again. This is happening in our beloved town of Warwick as well as all over the UK.
Here’s a little insight into life at Heaphys right now, as we keep shop from home…
Keeping the team and business alive during lockdown
When the pandemic began to affect life in the UK, we kept trading as best we could until we were officially told we had to close. We held out as safely as we could. We didn’t want to give in and many of our peers did the same.
During that time, we were still having spring deliveries arriving at the shop, but the number of customers coming in to store soon understandably tailed off. The news spread about the virus and many stayed home sooner than they were mandated to. Fashion and clothing wasn’t a priority.
Events got cancelled. Weddings were postponed. We felt the pinch very early.
We’re the type of business that offers a service and product that our customers really like to try on, feel, or get fitted for. You can’t do this if your shop is shut. There’s no Ai or internet app that replaces this.
We took the government help. Without being able to furlough our staff and access some of the government funding, we probably wouldn’t have a business to open again. We had to make a call. We had to close and save our business.
What does this all mean for the high street?
For the high street the impact of the pandemic could spell the end for many ‘Bricks and Mortar’ stores. Before all this, many were already struggling. We’ve all seen the big names go into liquidation. At the time of writing this blog the large restaurant chain Carluccio’s has announced a buyout. It sadly won’t save all the jobs or restaurants, and much of the reporting does hint towards troubles for their business already, before the pandemic.
Without big changes in the way they operate, many high street stores and businesses will find it tougher after Covid-19. Many have already bowed out. Others will follow, sadly.
Fortunately for us, we’re different. We still have customers who want to experience a traditional service and proper clothing. Our customers have traditionally come from far and wide and they don’t mind paying a couple of pounds for parking or travelling.
Other businesses might not be so lucky. The internet has been given a big chance here to really get a grip on people. As large networking organisations and event organisers scramble to put their content online, it’s clear that this was the time for the web to rise up and be noticed to those who had shied away from it previously.
It’s not the same, but it’s now something many have had to try. We’ve been forced to use Zoom and click and collect. Whether we’ll go back 100% to how we were is yet to be seen, but we doubt it.
How will we return? What measures can put in place to ensure we ‘bounce back’?
We’re officially set to re-open on June 15th.
We’ve put a plan and measures in place to allow us to do this:
· We’ll be allowing one customer in at a time or one couple from the same household as per the recommendations.
· We’ll also be providing hand sanitiser on the door, which will be dispensed by a member of staff.
· We will also, as a precaution, be wearing face masks initially.
· We can provide optional masks for customers too, particularly if we are measuring.
· We’ll also be adding in regular hand washing and in store cleaning will be maintained.
· And as the Government as told us – we’re being alert!
We plan to come back stronger, with a lesson or two learnt, and with renewed optimism. We’ll be online more, and we’ll put things in place to be able to run the business without the constant footfall. But we’ll also be getting back to ‘our normal’.
This was a moment in time and for us, that’s where it will stay as much as it can. We’re people. We’re social people! We need – dare we say – human contact! We need to be around people and we hope they come back as soon as they can.
We love the high street – do you?
If you want the high street to continue, then please do support it.
We hope you’ve made the most of the online world and that it has helped you through this incredibly tough time. But when you’re allowed to and when it’s safe to do so, please return to the local businesses on your high street.
We all need you now more than ever.
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