Christmas worries and early retirement: What lockdown will do to traders
Written by Rother Radio News on 02/11/2020
The prospect of a second national lockdown during the busiest shopping season of the year is causing anxiety and uncertainty for traders – and has even resulted in one independent store in South Yorkshire closing its doors for good.
So how are retailers bracing themselves for the four-week lockdown?
In the Glorious Creations gift shop in Rotherham Terri Allen put up a Christmas tree to create some festive cheer but had barely hung the last bauble before news broke she would have to close for what should be one of the busiest shopping months of the year.
The town centre shop has not yet been open for a year but Terri and business partner Robyn Hutchinson are hoping customers who would have walked to buy presents during November will hunt them down on the internet instead.
Their situation reflects that of many independents, who normally rely on the festive season to boost their annual turnover.
With no prospect of re-opening before December 2 and potentially later than that, the government’s latest coronavirus lockdown is denying non-essential traders a period many would regard as vital.
For Glorious Creations the situation is tougher than ever because the business is relatively new, so state help has been limited.
Terri said: “We are hoping online sales will pick up, that is what we will have to live on. We are hoping people will still shop for Christmas. We put the tree up for a bit of cheer.”
She was speaking as Rotherham town centre was “quiet”, though she said the Parkgate out-of-town retail centre was “gridlocked”, with shoppers seemingly heading for the big chains.
In High Street, Keith Topliss was in the process of closing his craft store, Craft Corner, after 25 years’ trading, a decision “hastened” by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The crafting classes which form part of the business have been off since February and he said that if the business had continued it would be a long time before trade recovered: “We were sat in the garden, enjoying the sunshine and thought ‘we could stand this’.
“We decided it would take so long to pick up again that we didn’t want to hang around and wait for it to happen.”
Across the road at the council-run Makers’ Emporium, more than 30 different craftspeople sell their products through one outlet, but again will face the loss of an important trading month.
In Barnsley, the town’s Book Vault store also faces closing, though will use the ‘click and collect’ option which allows customers to pick up purchases literally from the door of the Market Street premises at pre-allotted times.
Otherwise, the store will be using the new bookshop.org website to allow customers to buy online.
Owner Keith Cowans said this was the busiest quarter in the publishing world, with many new books out in September and October with the Christmas market in mind.
Although supermarkets can continue to sell books while Book Vault is closed, their ranges were limited and the bigger competition came from online outlets, he said.
“We offer post and home delivery and will continue to do that.
“Even before lockdown was announced we had people coming in because they had a feeling there would be more restrictions at some point,” he said.