KBB retailers have responded to the English Government’s Covid-19 recovery Tier system that kicks in when the latest national lockdown ends this week.
Under the new guidelines, as of December 2, parts of the country will be placed into high-risk or very high-risk tiers, with tougher measures being introduced within those tiers.
Kbbreview has been speaking to kbbreview100 retailers in areas that will fall into the Tier 3 category – the highest tier – of the Government’s Covid-19 Winter Plan. These regions will be under the strictest measures.
Retailers with showrooms in Tier 3 areas of England have aired their frustrations and worries about the effect the tighter controls could have on business, despite the fact that showrooms can re-open regardless of which tier they are in, as long as they operate in a Covid-19 secure manner.
Mark Butler, managing director of Butler Interiors in Lancaster said: “Being honest it is all a little frustrating. The Lancaster area is well below the national average in terms of infection rates and has by far the lowest rate in Lancashire. I fully understand that implementing a county-wide restriction makes sense in a lot of ways, however it does not ease the disappointment when we know the actual Covid level is under control.
“I’m expecting demand to drop off due to the restrictions, however I never cease to be amazed as the demand keeps coming. During lockdown we had a handful of enquiries indirectly wanting us to turn a blind eye to the fact the we are in a lockdown. Clients are certainly keen to progress forward.”
In Leicestershire – one of the areas of England hardest hit by Covid – the managing director of Coalville Kitchens, Luke Wedgbury, said that he was concerned that a lack of understanding of the rules might put consumers off visiting the showroom.
“I’m certainly not one to moan about what our Government asks us to do and I’m willing to deal with whatever cards I’m dealt which, this time round, means I need to follow the rules of Tier 3!
“My only hope is that people do the necessary research and read the guidelines so they learn that can indeed travel to our design studio.
Speaking of the overall impact Covid-19 is having on business, Wedgbury said: “We’re having to take a ‘make it up as you go along approach’. We’ve never been in a situation where we could start a project and then not have enough staff to finish it due to positive Covid tests or self-isolation. It’s very strange and we are having to work incredibly hard to make sure our customers are kept informed and happy.”
As manager of the InHouse showroom in Hexham in the North-East – another Covid hotspot that has been under high alert rules for months already – Phil Gray was understandably more optimistic about the news and the impact it may have on business.
“We have been in a high-alert tier and operating tight Covid safety measures for almost six months now, we haven’t relaxed them. So, it’s kind of business as usual for us.
“It has been encouraging to see how many phone calls and emails we have received looking to set up appointments and showroom visits once it is allowed. As such, at the moment we remain positive but cautious about demand remaining strong. The main concern is what happens in spring when furlough comes to an end.”
Frazer Goodwillie, managing director of Billingham Kitchens in Stockton on Tees in the North-East, said he hoped the increased restrictions would help prevent the need for tighter controls on the country in the New Year.
“I sincerely hope that the current tiers are able to prevent a further national lockdown. Other than hospitality, business can pretty much continue as normal, so this should allow us to keep surveying, designing and installing. Customer demand has even remained quite high in the recent increased restrictions, so hopefully this will continue.