An Important Update from Your Village Shop
BUILDING WORK GIVEN THE GREENLIGHT
After three years of planning, we are almost ready to start building a new extension to the shop. By spring, we expect to be nearly a third larger, with more space for frozen and chilled foods, as well as special promotions.
However, this has coincided with a change to our sales patterns.
DOWNTURN IN TRADE
In the last couple of months, we have suffered a severe drop in sales, which makes the future uncertain.
After the last lockdown, trade remained stable for months. The parish was continuing to support us brilliantly. In mid-September, numbers began to fall -which they always do in autumn - only this time the decline has been far greater.
Sales have fallen by 25% in the last six weeks alone with little sign of the decline slowing.
Some customers are supporting us more than ever, and we thank them sincerely. But that minority is keeping us going. If we factor out Post Office custom and the passing lunch trade, we calculate the average parishioner is now spending just 70p a day with us, which is just not sustainable…
And that figure includes considerable tobacco and lottery sales, for which we only get a 4 – 5% margin, and newspapers, which aren't much better. The only reasonable earnings come from grocery, alcohol and household, and it's those things that are suffering the most.
Weekend trade has declined sharply. Last Sunday our turnover was actually 40% less than it was on the equivalent Sunday in 2018. Unfortunately, on days like this we make a financial loss.
As a result, we need to seriously consider closing on Sundays. We understand some of you would be concerned about this change and are therefore asking for your specific feedback on this matter.
WHAT COULD HAPPEN?
We don’t want to alarm people but on our present sales trajectory, instead of opening up a lovely new store, we may soon be closing down, and this would be tragic for everyone.
More than a hundred village stores have been lost in Hampshire in recent decades, leading to community deterioration and personal hardships for those without transport.
As well as losing a shop, there may be no alternative place to collect your prescriptions in the village; and it would become more difficult for local charities to raise money, as we currently provide free help by selling things like event tickets, poppies, greeting cards and Christmas puddings.
Home owners might also want to consider that when a village loses its shop, local house prices can drop by 5%.
Of course, we know every household has a budget and it’s very tempting to get everything we need at supermarket prices. This is perfectly understandable. But if you think having a local shop and post office is desirable, then please don’t assume your neighbours will be making all the necessary investment to keep it open.
We're sorry if that sounds cheeky but it's better for everyone if we're frank than to pretend nothing's wrong until the shutters go up.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
It wouldn’t take much to ‘do your bit’. If every parishioner made a point of buying just one basket of groceries, or a mid-priced bottle of wine, or a pack of beers from us each week, that’s all that would be needed to assure the shop’s future!
We are also asking for your thoughts on a) Sunday closing, and b) our expansion plans. To keep it simple, all you have to do is write what’s most important to you in the comments section below. For example:
- How can the shop be made more useful to you and your family?
- What else should we be selling?
- Is parking or access to the shop an issue for you?
- Would you use us much more regularly if we were to open earlier or later in the day (e.g. from 7am or up to 8pm)?
- How would you be affected if the shop stopped opening on Sundays?
- How useful to you is our online shopping and delivery service?
Here's to another 211 years of success in the village!
Kevin and Lisa
Barton Stacey Post Office & Stores
26th November 2021