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“We are doing what is essential to keep our business healthy”

Last week’s updated retail guidance from the Scottish government saw a number of additional restrictions being implemented, including an explicit ban on click-and-collect for non-essential retail business. spoke to Yas Ali, director of Babyland in Fife, to find out her take on the current situation.

Yas Ali is the director of Babyland in Fife, Scotland.

“Tough is one word for it – I think I speak for everyone when I say we are all just fed up of it and want it over, its ridiculous now.

The fact that nursery retailers haven’t been explicitly listed as essential and have to rely on loopholes, goes to show how shambolic the handling of the whole situation has been.

We’ve been lobbying various channels for almost a year, so for Nicola [Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland] to make a mention of it all of a sudden, almost out of nowhere… it’s ridiculous. We are all in a situation where the powers that be don’t really care; they removed homeware from the essentials listing to stop more shops opening.

I get the feeling that because so many shops shove blankets, bedding and various baby products on their shelves, they had to remove that. They’ve called us essential and have allowed us to continue offering click and collect – but it really doesn’t go far enough.

The wellbeing of pregnant women is being forgotten here and it’s very disappointing. They are classed as a vulnerable category, but there is no assistance for them when it comes to informed choices when buying the essential equipment they require. Online appointments only go so far. Most nursery retailers were already running a safe to operate appointment system, so surely we should be permitted to continue.

On the whole yes I’m pleased our equipment got a mention – but the guidance also includes every other supermarket, hardware store and clothing shop that classes its baby equipment as essential. The fact is, no-one can stomach being told their business and livelihood is not essential.

More has to be done, because this is very damaging. So many people are sat at home, thinking shops will reopen in February… and yes, shops may open in February – but they’ll be opening with price increases and an unstable stock situation.

It is quite gloomy, but connecting with customers online, via our website and social media, has meant that we are really quite busy. But we did not open a bricks and mortar shop to work online… so we are still in the shop every day, doing what is essential to keep our business healthy.”

The official petition created by Megan Elliott of Bababoom is appealing for the government to change the rules so that baby and nursery stores are classed as essential retail across the UK. Brands including Cosatto, Bebecar, Babymoov, Joolz, Roma Prams and BabyStyle have lent their support to the petition.

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