A lot can change in 4 weeks
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
I thought I would start a blog during the Covid-19 pandemic and share my experience as a very small business. I know there are lots of businesses out there right now who are wondering if they will make it though these next few months (yes, it’s looking more like months than weeks) so here is my story/perspective, Hopefully it Will keep other businesses motivated and help ease the burden, even it’s just a little. We’re all in the same boat.
Firstly let’s roll back to end of 2019/early 2020. My Christmas period was insane, never been so busy, the website was getting orders through constantly, mainly down to the Gavin and Stacey buzz and the Xmas holidays were the busiest I have ever had. It’s what I always dreamed of, busy, both online and in the shop, I did it, I finally achieved what I wanted to do.
I took quite a bit of time off in January, I needed it, plus it’s always quiet down the shop. Roll on to February, I did my usual trade shows and placed bulk orders at cheaper prices on items that I know will sell through the season, long term, it saves cash. Also, there’s extended credit on this so I have longer than 30 days to pay and can spread it over the summer.
Barrybados beach towels were out of stock and I was going to hold off ordering them until March and bring out a new design, blue red and pink beach towels. So many people asked for them in February, I thought why not order them anyway, they always sell. So I placed the order. Beach towels are expensive to produce and the minimum quantity is 100 of the original logo towels. They take 4 weeks to produce, thats ok, they’ll be here for start of the holiday season in April.
My ice cream supplier had a small increase this year coming into force on March 1st. I had cash available and space in the freezer, I’ll buy as much as I can fit in the freezer, only takes a few busy weekends and it’ll be gone anyway. Use by dates are good. Long term it saves cash.
I’ve also committed to a number of orders due to arrive within the next few weeks or so.
Fast forward to March 16th. Advised non essential travel abroad for at least 30 days, think we all know this is going to be longer. So that means I’ll struggle to sell the beach towels which are due to arrive end of March. This will tie up a lot of cash longer than needed.
We’ve been advised on social distancing, Will this impact visitors to the island, time will tell. Last Saturday was the best takings for a Saturday in March I’ve ever had, so will see how it goes over the next few weeks. Things are changing rapidly right now,
I am expecting a full lockdown at some point. For how long, no one knows. If this is during the peak good weather season then it’ll significantly impact trade. If there are no visitors, I can’t sell the stock, which I’ve yet to pay for as it’s on credit. I also rely on summer takings to see me through the winter. I take at least 70% of my turnover in the summer and save money to see me though till April, if I don’t make enough during the summer, then the winter will be even more a struggle then normal. The knock on effect is already starting.
Also, I was planning on putting on a free screening of Gavin and Stacey on Barry Island, in association with the council. I was planning on paying for this out of my own money as a thank you for the support over the years. This is now in jeopardy. Firstly we don’t even know if mass gatherings will be allowed by then, secondly, if I don’t take enough money, then I can’t justify paying the fee for the license. My bills will come first. So there is a strong possibility this is going to be cancelled.
In 4 weeks, more than likely less, say 2 weeks, I’ve gone from planning for a new year on Barry Island, to now wondering if we’re going to be able to open during the summer and if will people visit. In the medium term, I think it might help the island if people can’t go abroad, so they’ll choose local destinations. But it’s the short term and longer impact that’s going to hurt businesses.
I’m guessing most shops will be the same right now, stock due in, on credit and not sure if they are going to be open or get the footfall to sell it. So we won’t be able to pay the bills. Plus a lot of cash flow with be tied up in stock, just sitting there, unsold.
At present, I’m confident I’ll get through this. But it all depends how long it lasts. A few months, I should be ok. But if these restrictions go on for 6 months or longer, who knows. A lot can change in a few weeks and I’m taking it one day at a time.
Let’s see what happens over the next 2/3 weeks.
Will keep a blog as to how it’s going. The next ones won’t be as long, I Promise.