Local shops enjoy a welcome revival during lockdown

Grocers and corner shops are enjoying a revival as almost two thirds of shoppers turn to local stores during the coronavirus pandemic. Read more: Local shops enjoy a welcome revival during lockdown

Local shops enjoy a welcome revival during lockdown

Grocers and corner shops are enjoying a revival as almost two thirds of shoppers turn to local stores during the coronavirus pandemic.

Although big supermarkets have reported a surge in sales, many people are said to be returning to independent stores, partly out of concern about long queues and to minimise the risk of infection. About 59 per cent of consumers have used more local stores and services during lockdown, according to a survey of 2,140 people by Deloitte Digital.

“Consumers may have begun shopping locally out of necessity rather than choice,” Deborah Womack, director of Deloitte Digital, said. “However, they are rediscovering their local shop as a place for human contact and personal service when they need it most.”

A report from Kantar, the market researcher, found that independent shops and co-operatives now had a 20 per cent share of the British food market.

Vicky Skingley, 37, owner of Good Food in southeast London, said that her business had experienced a surge in new customers seeking bread, eggs and yeast during lockdown. People also were shopping more regularly because they were working from home.

“Our parade of shops is so much more vibrant now people are forced to work from home and have flexible hours,” she said. “There is a bit of mistrust in the big supermarkets, with people not wanting to queue for so long or being worried about social distancing.”

In the early stages of the pandemic, Ms Skingley had been concerned that people would turn away from her store’s upmarket ranges. “However, it has been quite the reverse,” she said.

Supermarket bosses said that people had shifted away from budget- conscious ingredients at the start of lockdown, opting to treat themselves to culinary treats.

While the rise in people working from home means that neighbourhood stores may have more passing traffic, local shops also have reacted to concerns that vulnerable shoppers have been unable to visit supermarkets or to get online deliveries. Local shops are making 600,000 grocery deliveries a week, according to the Association of Convenience Stores, with 65 per cent of them offering the service, compared with only 10 per cent last year.

“With people increasingly supporting their local area, businesses that have a strong understanding of the community will be the most likely to recover well and thrive in the coming months,” Ms Womack said.

Retailers classed as “non-essential” during the crisis will be able to open their doors again from next Monday, as long as they meet safety and social-distancing standards. Chris Wootton, 40, chief financial officer of Sports Direct, said more retailers would “go to the wall” if the government did not provide more help to the high street.

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Local shops enjoy a welcome revival during lockdown

Source : Business Matters More   

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Rail operators call for distancing to be reduced to one metre

A government order to avoid public transport will have terrible long-term consequences for the industry and environment, ministers have been told. Read more: Rail operators call for distancing to be reduced to one metre

Rail operators call for distancing to be reduced to one metre

A government order to avoid public transport will have terrible long-term consequences for the industry and environment, ministers have been told.

Operators have urged the government to drop what they call its negative messaging about the risks of using public transport because of fears that it will deter people for years.

They are lobbying ministers and officials for a cut in the existing two-metre spacing between people — seen as necessary to stop the transmission of coronavirus — because the policy significantly limits passenger numbers.

Operators say that the introduction of compulsory face coverings on buses, trains and trams next Monday should be combined with a cut in the gap between passengers to help capacity.

The government is already underwriting all rail franchises because of the sharp drop in passenger numbers after the lockdown. The existing “emergency measures agreements”, believed to be costing £900 million a month, are due to expire at the end of September but rail operators insist that they will have to be extended because passenger numbers continue to be depressed, making services loss-making.

They are believed to favour a continuation of the present model until at least September next year: 18 months in total. A further £254 million was announced last month to subsidise bus services and Transport for London has been given a £1.6 billion rescue package.

Train operators are preparing to increase services to near normal levels at the start of next month. Carriages can only accommodate between 10 and 20 per cent of passengers, however, because of social distancing, and commuters will have to travel off-peak or endure long queues. Some double-decker buses can carry a maximum of only 24 passengers compared with up to 120 people before the lockdown.

One public transport source said that cutting the gap to one metre would allow trains to carry an estimated 45 per cent of usual passengers. Britain and Spain are the only European countries with a two-metre rule. The World Health Organisation, Hong Kong, France and China have one-metre guidelines; Australia, Germany and the Netherlands 1.5 metres. No 10 is thought to be keen to relax the rule to allow more people inside schools, shops and, ultimately, pubs and restaurants. It is considering guidelines that could allow people to be closer if they are back to back or outdoors.

Operators are urging ministers to make the change and drop its advice to avoid public transport. Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, cited the policy on Thursday as he made face coverings mandatory. He said: “If you cannot work from home you should avoid public transport wherever possible.”

Operators say that the message has started to scare people away from public transport, potentially having a profound long-term impact and leading to more people using cars. One source said: “At the peak of lockdown it was right to suppress demand but we will need to move on from deterrence to a more nuanced message as we go into the recovery phase. Without that change you’re going to see people lose the public transport habit within weeks and that will have terrible consequences both for the industry and the environment.”

Read more:
Rail operators call for distancing to be reduced to one metre

Source : Business Matters More   

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