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Our financial year end is March, so when we were putting together this current year’s business plan, we had no idea what to expect, as, of course, the first lockdown started last March.
Could we expect sales figures to still be up, bearing in mind a 50% uplift throughout 2020? Probably not. Some thought that as we came out of lockdown, sales might be down on last year and we should be prepared to make adjustments as necessary.
We are, of course, only a few weeks into our current financial year, but so far, the increases are continuing along the same lines as last year. What are the reasons for that? Well, all retailers are now open and tourist attractions are just opening this week, whereas there were very few weeks last year when that was the case. The many businesses that have started or increased online sales have continued to do well. And most encouragingly, those shoppers who changed their shopping habits during 2020 are continuing to support independent retailers. In fact, in surveys on this, over half of those who changed shopping habits during Covid plan to keep those changes.
I think they have realised that the quality and service they receive from independent retail is better than from other places. People in the UK are appreciating better food and better service, which is good news for all of us, especially as we are now only five weeks away from opening our own food hall and restaurant.
In the same weekend when there was another nail in the coffin of the high street with the last Debenhams closing its doors for the last time, in the world of food and drink retail, things have never been better and look to stay the same for the foreseeable future.