‘Stay positive’ say leading retailers

The industry needs to stay positive and seek out any possible opportunities in the middle of the current disruption, say key retailers.

While still acknowledging that they are bracing themselves for a severe drop in footfall, many are taking a consciously constructive approach.

Diane Berry, from Diane Berry Kitchens in Manchester, has just moved to a new showroom and said that, while it was hard to judge, they have yet to see a significant change in footfall.

“We haven’t seen a change in our supply chain or any cancellations from clients,” she said. “But I am not naive as I think it will come at some point. However, for the moment, we are deep cleaning all the obvious things daily, no hand shaking, cleansing our car steering wheels, avoiding crowds and generally being vigilant.”

There have been some positive signs, though, directly coming from the social distancing measures the Government has put in place.

“I had clients in on Saturday who want to order as they can’t take a holiday now so want to use the money to improve their home  –  especially as they will be having a clear out while self-isolating,” Berry said. “I know this isn’t the case for many as their income could be reduced and businesses will be suffering in various sectors. But it is a slightly more positive spin, as it does all seem doom and gloom right now.”

For some retailers, the reality is starting to take hold.

Shehryar Khan, managing director of Sheraton Interiors in Richmond, said that footfall and enquiries were unaffected over the weekend, but two provisional orders which were due to be confirmed this week have postponed.

“Existing projects are progressing well, albeit with slight delays on the build schedule, which is to be expected,” he said. “We had a great start to the New Year and were planning to open another showroom in the coming months, but I’m afraid those plans will be on hold for now. Our approach will be to stay positive and keep the business open; we will be flexible in terms of how we deal with our customers’ demands and maintain our high service levels.

“I am anticipating a severe drop in consumer confidence in the short term and, depending on how long it takes for the virus to peak, then that drop will be the deciding factor for the real impact our business and the industry as a whole. Stay safe and stay positive, people!”

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