After the past two Covid-19-affected winters and all their challenges and difficulties, it’s a sobering thought that this winter could be even more of a struggle for retailers and their customers. With the cost-of-living crisis having a huge impact and many retailers feeling that government intervention is still falling too short to be of meaningful benefit, it’s never been more important to have a plan in place for the winter season, and to reach out for help and support.
“You name it, we’re struggling with it,” says Arif Ahmed, from Ahmed’s Newsagents in Coventry. “Margins, overheads, stock availability and prices are all challenging. On top of that, people aren’t spending.”
Many retailers will hunker down and try to see out the storm, putting investment and expansion plans on hold until 2023 and being more cautious with their spending. But retailers should also reach out to suppliers and wholesalers, and look for support that will help their own bottom lines and assist their community.
Energy-saving costs in store will have an even bigger impact than normal this winter, so retailers should examine their routines and equipment to see if there are efficiencies they’ve missed that can be implemented.
But retailers should also look to support their own communities, as the help they offer now will not be forgotten. Ahmed says Iceland are handing out vouchers to customers aged over 65 that are being very well appreciated, while Trudy Davies, from Woosnam & Davies News in Llanidloes, Powys, is ensuring as many customers as possible get a free treat from her store.
“We’ve got a big pumpkin festival in Llanidloes. There’s also a shop hunt with clues for the children to follow and I’ve given packets of sweets to each one that does it so they all get a gift. I’d rather everybody get a little bit less rather than one or two get prizes,” she says.