Toy, nursery and preschool product retailers have been responding to the UK’s latest lockdown measures with a mixture of resignation, determination and positivity, as it was announced this week (Monday 4 January) at 8pm that the UK would be entering a third – and hopefully final – lockdown.
Non-essential retail currently includes toy and nursery stores, although the nursery retail sector has launched an active Government petition is attracting signatures calling for that decision to be reconsidered. The Baby Products Association (BPA) has also made direct contact with a minister for trade and business, with a request for nursery retail to be added to the essential retailer list.
“In both Germany and Italy nursery retailers are able to remain to remain open and are classed as essential,” explained Andy Crane, BabyStyle’s managing director and chair of the BPA. “We are simply asking for the UK industry to be given the same status.”
In the meantime, preschool product retailers will be physically closed from Tuesday 5 January until at least February half term (w/c 15 February), with the possibility of an extension to those dates. Here’s what some of them had to say…
Caroline Pizzey, Little Poppets & Co, Sevenoaks
“I believe as a country this needs to happen, but I am getting disappointed that the rules seem to have relaxed each time. The first was very black and white with everyone closed… now we have all garden centres ad homeware shops still being able to trade.
We have tried to adopt a new way of trading via click-and-collect and virtual appointments. Customers are frustrated that they cannot try the items. We were quite busy over Christmas which was a relief. We are more prepared this time round and as we were in a Tier 4 area to start with customers know that this isn’t changing anytime soon, so we are receiving more order and enquiries.
We have closed the shop floor but our warehouse and customer service teams are still running. I hope that once this lockdown is over that some normality is returned, and I can open my doors! I just hope that Boris helps businesses as much as he did in the first lockdown.”
Nicola Aimes, Sea Whistle, Hastings
“I initially felt quite demoralised at the announcement as I only opened the store on 14 February last year, so I have had more weeks in lockdown than physically open! This morning I picked myself up and gave myself a good talking to as the opportunity to get through this is in my hands and is my responsibility.
The Christmas period was tough as I closed during November, opened briefly then went straight into Tier 4. Most sales were click-and-collect once I got the website up and running. It’s a work-in-progress but it’s an revenue stream at least. I am operating click-and-collect and also offering made to order clothing as I can sew when not in the shop. I am also keeping customers warm with weekly emails and exclusive offers and building my email list. I’m keeping active with Instagram and Facebook as well.
I hope the next few weeks will allow me to make sufficient revenue to pay for my SS21 orders which are due to arrive at the end of January. My eye is firmly on Easter and reopening, so I am planning a big reopening in time for Easter staycations by the coast!”
Emma Dadswell, Toys ‘N’ Tuck, Southend
“This third lockdown will be tough and we will continue to be innovative in what we do on social media and online. We were shut for the week before Christmas which had a major impact on late business (sales were down by 85%) which left us with a little more stock than we would have anticipated. We will buy new stock but more cautiously than before.
We expect this lockdown to make us more internet-focused and reduce our overall sales. We are more prepared this time, but then so is everyone else! We will trade online, offer click-and-collect and free local deliveries, as well as producing packs of products to make shopping easy for our local customers. We’ll be ok as long as we can survive and pay the bills.”