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“My main hope is that we can open again”

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that our customers continue to shop local and don’t default to Amazon” says Just Williams’ Vicky Brown.

Vicky Brown of independent toy retailer, Just Williams, readily admits that when she found out on December 19 that her two stores had to close once again – losing trade from the busiest four days of the year – she just wanted to cry.

When Just Williams – which has branches in Beckenham and East Dulwich – was able to trade, Vicky tells that sales were good, “above that of last year”.

“I understand why we have lockdown number three, and I see the need for it with rising cases of COVID-19, but as a business owner it is hard when you know you are going to be closed for another three months,” she commented. “It is quite demoralising and very hard to plan.

“When we found out late on December 19 that we had to close, losing the busiest four days of the year, I just wanted to cry! I was hoping that Christmas sales were going to make up for some of the loss of sales from the first two lockdowns. We continued with Click & Collect and local deliveries, but the sales were about 10-12% of our expected sales had we been open.”

Vicky says that despite the first quarter always being quiet, the current lockdown will inevitably cause financial pressure. “We are looking at ways in which we can save money, be it through our utilities and unfortunately headcount and which products will give us better margins,” she added.

Just Williams is continuing to offer Click & Collect and local deliveries, taking orders online, over the phone and via email. The team is also hosting WhatsApp and Facetime calls to show customers around the shops. “We ensure that staff are following all necessary precautions with washing hands as soon as they enter the store, sanitising surfaces and equipment after use, wearing face masks, etc,” Vicky reiterated.

“My main hope is that we can open again and the lockdown is not implemented until April! Other than that, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that our customers continue to shop local and don’t default to Amazon.”

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