Preschool retailers across the UK are preparing to close their doors for the forseeable future later this week, as non-essential retail has been ordered to close from Thursday 5 November until at least Wednesday 2 December.
With The Entertainer offering extended opening hours over the last two days (up to 8pm in some stores) before lockdown begins and Huggle reassuring consumers that it will continue to offer live chat and video consulations throughout lockdown, PreschoolNews.net spoke to a number of retailers to find out what the latest Covid-19 restrictions will mean for them.
“The second lockdown is a massive shame, just as momentum was building after the last lockdown and in preparation for Black Fiday and of course Christmas. However it is not a surprise and we were always poised for a possible second wave.
It will have a huge effect on all areas of our business – not just the obvious in terms of multiple shops shutting, but also the infrastructure and how we then cope with the increased demand online and on areas such as click-and-collect.
I think whether or not baby products should be listed as ‘essential items’ depends which type of retailer you are but – there are many essential items that new parents in particular will need and can’t do without.
If shops do reopen at the start of December, we hope customers and suppliers have an awareness of how frantic and busy this will be. The pressure on the front line will be immense. Suppliers can help by keeping communication open – they need to let us know if they are impacted in anyway and share bad or challenging news early. Be patient with us – we all want the same thing but can not do things in the way we would normally do. (I know this works both ways!)
Good luck to everyone… It’s really tough and we all need to work together.”
Lisa Rutherford, nursery buyer, John Lewis
“I am feeling very nervous about a second lockdown, especially in this quarter of sales. November and December are key months to any business. I am hoping that the work we have been doing over the past few months with improving our website and customer interaction across social media will help us get through.
But losing key footfall traffic or the chances of a new customer discovering your little shop is so heartbreaking. I am really going to miss seeing my customers throughout November as the shop comes alive when the shop is full of children and happy parents.
We will be operating a full click-and-collect service online and local social-distanced delivery to surrounding areas. We are also opening up virtual booking slots for customers to have an online shopping experience with us. This is something new to us and we hope people will enjoy it.
My staff have been amazing and they will continue to spread that magic when sending out orders to all our lovely customers. Good communication from suppliers is key – especially keeping us updated with lead times as they are also up against it. 2020 has been a very interesting year for us all!
I wish all the wonderful independent toy shops and baby shops out there the best of luck. We will do everything in our power to get through this. There is a lot of love out there for small business but we really need people to support us at this time.”
Charlotte Polley, Boos’ Toy Shop (Progressive Preschool Awards 2020 finalist), Dorset
We have made ourselves Covid secure, we have bought back our staff who were on furlough, we have invested in the right areas – we’ve not wasted a penny of our grant money – we have done every single thing in our power to be stood here now, trying to be successful. The prospect of a second lockdown just spells catastrophe.”
Fran Bishop, The Pud Store (Progressive Preschool Awards 2020 finalist) Doncaster (speaking to the BBC)