Diary of an agent: from UK
29 June 2020
I'm deliberately not going out on the road at the moment as I want to give my customers some time to adjust to social distancing and working with limited numbers of customers in the store at one time.
I figured that the last thing they will need is me turning up on their doorstep with my samples!!
From speaking to a few customers last week, reaction has been very varied.
One ladies store I spoke to had filled her week with 'appointment only' customers and had a fantastic week, others have received a more 'muted' response to re-opening with one store telling me her first customer last Monday morning was an officer from the local Council checking that her store was adhering to the new requirements!! Thereafter she only had two more customers during the whole day!
I still have some stores who are remaining closed for another week or so, either because they are elderly and concerned for their own safety, or because they want to allow customers to get more confident about venturing out before they re-open. Part of the problem is that fact that on the government 'furlough' scheme, some shops are in a better financial position by remaining closed as all staff wages are covered…if they re-open they need to be sure that they will take enough money to cover their overheads.
Menswear seems to have had a slower response…one store I spoke to in a small shopping centre on outskirts of Birmingham told me that people were shopping with him ''just like normal' with no care for social distancing, still handling clothes etc. but footfall was down because only 50% of the stores in the centre were open. WHSmith, Ryman, New Look, Peacocks, Greggs etc were all still closed and therefore the centre was very quiet.
I'm hoping to get back out on the road next week - Overall I would say retailers are staying positive and with better weather forecast this week I am hoping it brings more people back out to the high street.
Photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/@tirachard-kumtanom-112571