Protecting your retail business through Christmas and beyond
Since the reopening of non-essential retail on December, many members have reported good trade as shoppers stock up for Christmas.
However, moving forward, it is imperative we continue to keep staff and customers safe in the shopping environment as well as futureproofing our businesses.
Here, Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, looks at ways to protect your retail business through Christmas and beyond, even if there are further restrictions or lockdowns in your area….
Judging by some of the photos in the various media channels, the crowds have returned to the shops. Anecdotally members have been telling us that business has been good since re-opening, with footfall being strong although below the levels normally seen at this time of year. This is encouraging for retailers, especially those who had to close throughout November.
The photos in the media are specially selected to show how busy some areas are. They also show that there is increased risk of spreading the virus, because this virus thrives on crowds and social contact. From a business perspective, this is the most important December ever. At the same time, it is equally important to focus on the safety protocols to ensure that retail is not contributing to the spread of the virus. As a quick reminder it is crucial to ensure that:
- Staff and customers are wearing face coverings when inside the shop
- Numbers in the shop at any one time are managed
- Queues are managed and shoppers are socially distant
- Hand sanitizer must be available on the way in and on the way out – remind people to use the sanitizer as it still offers the best protection
Each shop may also have some of its own measures in place which is great and please work with your local authorities and BIDs to ensure that there is good crowd management. We have been consistently saying that shopping is safe, and now is the time to make sure we deliver on our promises.
At the same time we need to start raining the prospect of a third lockdown
Are you ready for another lockdown?
It would appear that business has been good since non-essential shops re-opened earlier this month and all shops need a really good December to try and end the year on a high. At the same time we have to be aware of what is happening with Covid-19. Cases in the UK are on the increase again, and more areas in England have moved into Tier 3. Wales has re-introduced its own tiering system with cases on the rise. Germany has just closed its non-essential shops. Despite the welcome introduction of a vaccine, Covid-19 is still a real threat to society and on the increase yet again.
At Bira we have no crystal ball, but we can look at the facts and the trends. With that in mind we are urging all retailers to start thinking about the possibility of a further lockdown after Christmas. The cases are rising, and scientists are expressing concern; the warning signs are there. Despite the safety protocols in place in shops, hospitality and other venues, it would appear that the only way to truly reduce the spread of Covid-19 is by reducing social contact, and that involves closing shops.
We know that closing down temporarily is never a good option for any business. Many of you will have been through two lockdowns and will have learned from each one. If a third lockdown is likely, you must ensure that you are better prepared than ever:
- Do you have deliveries or click and collect in place?
- Do you have a website?
- Are you developing your ‘e-presence’ through social media?
- Can you sell through your Christmas stock before Christmas?
- Do you have a communications plan for your customers? (ready made signs? Contact details?)
- Have you completed a cash flow forecast?
These are just some of the key areas that we know independent retailers have successfully addressed before. It is difficult to consider a lockdown when you are in the middle of your busiest trading period, and yet it is something you must do.
For our part we will start to lobby the Government on the support that will be available to closed businesses and no doubt start the debate about ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’.
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