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Mixed feelings among retailers about non-essential retail re-opening

Nursery retailers were feeling a combination of optimism, nervousness and caution as they prepared to re-open their doors after the third UK lockdown.

Yesterday (12 April) marked the reopening of non-essential retail after the third lockdown in the UK and Ireland. Most nursery retailers have spent most of the last year surviving solely on e-commerce sales, and have had to reinvent their businesses in order to survive the restrictions.

But physical stores are key for so many in the nursery industry, as Karen Bridle, owner of BabyB in Waterlooville explained: “It’s so important for expecting parents to have guidance and advice on car seat fitting, prams and safe sleeping. We have really missed sharing our knowledge and offering exceptional customer service in-store here at BabyB.”

And while many are excited at the prospect of reopening, there are also some nerves being felt ahead of the big day. Julie Logan, owner of The Olive Branch in Castle Donington commented: “There’s definitely some fresh optimism in the air. And it’s that optimism that’s kept us going during this latest lockdown.

“We’ve had everything off the shelves for a good clean and turn around. We’ve created new zones and displays in the shop and bought in new products. But please do be patient with the butterflies in my tummy as I try not to get my tongue in a knot and to remember where I left the spare Sellotape.”

There is also some caution surrounding the gradual return to normality. Simon Wilson, owner, Piccola in Brentwood, said: “If previous lockdowns are anything to go by we’d expect a strong opening week, but it’s after this that will be the real indicator of how well we’ll be able to bounce back.

“Landlords still expected to be paid while our retail outlets had zero turnover, and we are exposed as a business more than at any time in our history. Add this to the loss of the five shops on our high street that have either closed or are looking for someone to take over their lease – including major high street names – and we’d be more pessimistic than optimistic about prospects for the rest of the year.”


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