We are all looking forward to getting back to some sort of normality as the government looks to ease the lockdown. Many of us will be deciding to replace the flooring that we have been staring at for the past few months. The question is, where should you go to buy your flooring?
I think there are a lot of good reasons to choose to shop locally, apart from the sense of supporting your local community, there are some good practical reasons to use your independent retailer.
Is my money safe?
The high street has had a turbulent time in recent years with many big-name retailers disappearing from the high street (who remembers Allied Carpets?), with more disappearing or in trouble during the crisis. Others are calling in administrators or looking at “CVA’s”.
The two largest carpet retail chains have both been under enormous pressure in recent years. Carpetright closed more than 90 showrooms as part of a rescue restructure last year and made a pre-tax loss of nearly £25m in the year to April 19. It was then acquired by its largest shareholder as its finances deteriorated and was taken off the London stock exchange (read The Guardian article here
Tapi is a fairly new entrant into the market and was founded in 2015. It is yet to post a profit and in October it was reported that Tapi’s losses had grown to £15.3 million, worse than the previous year’s loss of £10.9 million. You can read about it here
The COVID 19 crisis has hit the whole retail sector both big and small; however, I believe that the government support for small businesses means that many small retailers will come through unscathed.
All small retailers have received a grant of between £10,000 and £25,000, and further help has come through the furlough scheme (although many small independents have low staffing levels), and finally, the Banks have got their act together and are processing loans for small businesses with no costs for a year.
Small retailers can be agile and react quickly, we also do not have the massive overheads of the chains, for example, Carpetright has a large head office, massive warehouses, and a delivery fleet to maintain.
I think the Independent trade will be ready to bounce back quickly.
Will I be looked after?
The second reason to look to your local independent shop will be the level of service you receive; small owner/managers are completely focused on looking after you from start to finish. Most good independent retailers will also take responsibility for the fitting of your flooring, meaning you can relax in the knowledge that, if things go wrong, you will be looked after.
I am only talking for my own retail store here, but I believe we will be able to maintain a high level of social distancing and hygiene control in a smaller shop. By limiting the number of people in the store, having an appointment system, hand gel dispensers at the shop entrance and anti-bacing after each customer leaves, we will be doing everything possible to keep our customers safe. I am sure most good independents will be doing the same.
But can’t I save money by shopping at the big stores; they have a 50% sale on?
The large retail chains have large overheads to cover plus the enormous cost of out of town store rent and rates. They have to make big margins to cover this. Bargain prices are not all they seem with potentially hidden costs in underlay, accessories, and fitting. Independent retailers will be able to provide a written estimate detailing where your money is actually going, no hidden surprises.
Many independent retailers are members of buying groups, pooling their purchasing power, and gaining fantastic pricing from manufacturers. In my experience, a good independent can always compete on price even with the so-called sale prices of the larger chains. Discussing your budget with your retailer means you can work together to get the flooring you want.
I genuinely believe that Britain is ready to “shop local” again and think that in the flooring trade
there are many good reasons to do so.
MD Buckfast Carpets and Interiors Ltd