How our independent retailers are coping with life under Lockdown 3.0

Deryane Tadd of The Dressing Room.

Deryane Tadd of The Dressing Room. - Credit: Laura Bill

Independent retailers in St Albans are trying to focus on the positives despite the pressures of lockdown.

Cositas' Emma Bustamante said: "Lockdown 3.0 has felt very different from the others - the traditional January slump been really hard on business. Having a business that has a physical presence like a shop or market stall which has suddenly had to close its doors on its main income stream is really tough for all of us.

Emma Bustamante of Cositas.

Emma Bustamante of Cositas. - Credit: Matt Adams

"It would be a lot easier probably to only sell online and lose all the overheads, but the whole community element that Cositas has been able to embrace has become the pulse of the business. I’m very proud of that and want to nurture it for as long as I can. 

"But it feels like we’ve got our rhythm back now and we’re gliding into February with our new stock, updated website, lots of optimism and hopefully a folder full of orders and even real life customers not too far from now!"

Sarah Gillow of Galio jewellers is frustrated by the ongoing restrictions: "Our bricks and mortar shop has been put into stasis, with our window our only physical advert. It’s tragic but even though we are a shop that has been adapted to be Covid-compliant and could welcome people into the shop safely we can’t by law. 

"We are trying to build up our online presence, developing the website further, as well as, our social reach. We have embraced technology introducing QR codes on the windows to allow people to shop the look on the website.

Galio Jewellers in St Albans.

Galio Jewellers in St Albans. - Credit: Matt Adams

"The emphasis is on marketing so that people don’t forget us - and we are ready to help them when the shops can reopen. 

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"We have had some really encouraging e-commerce results but our business mainly relies on face-to-face meetings so nothing can replace that. 

"We are optimistic though. People who are working now but unable to shop will want to shop later. Hopefully they will remember us through lock down and return when they can."

Deryane Tadd of The Dressing Room said: "The latest and hopefully last lockdown we will have to face has meant we have had to pull out all the stops to ensure we are engaging and exciting our customers on a daily basis.  We have been so grateful for the continued support we receive from our community, we can really feel the encouragement for small local businesses."

The boutique is continuing with its social content with two styling videos a week plus plenty of behind the scenes activity to keep everyone's spirits lifted during this difficult time.  

Deryane said they have been using the time to make improvements to their e-commerce offering: "We are also excited to have launched our loyalty scheme online, so all of our local customers can gain their points and rewards just as easily when they shop online as when they do instore. This has taken a very long time for our tech companies to link up, so for us this is somewhat of a milestone and something that we know our customers will love!

"We are working in team bubbles with masks and operate a socially distanced working environment to ensure that everyone  is safe and well. Our team of stylists are on hand six days a week for click and collect, online styling enquiries, virtual styling appointments via zoom and at the end of the phone. Our virtual styling appointments have been super popular and they are a great way for people to get their styling fix and a bit of a friendly chat at the same time.

"So, we continue to keep soldiering on, digging deep when we need to and giving our customers the very best experience possible - even if it has to be virtually for now."