Harriet Kelsall is a prolific UK jeweller since 1998, founder of Harriet Kelsall Jewellery which now boasts shops in Cambridge and London, an online studio in Winchester, and a ‘jewellery centre’ set in a converted Tudor barn in Hertfordshire.
Now that non-essential retail is open again in England, we asked Kelsall to reflect on the first week of trading after England’s third national lockdown.
Did you open on day one, 12 April?
We opened the retail part of our Hertfordshire jewellery centre on 12 April . Of course, the workshop and design studio had been open throughout lockdown whilst we carried on making jewellery for online consultations.
However, we didn’t open our Cambridge and London studios until Tuesday 13 April because we have to be closed on Mondays in those two locations because of the social distancing rules – we can’t fit everybody in the shop which means we don’t have enough people to stagger days off so we remain closed on Mondays in those two locations.
But yes, of course, we are delighted to be in front of customers again and the customers are so excited to come to visit us too.
How has the first week been in terms of footfall, sales, etc.?
Our service is personal so most customers have been in touch prior to coming in, so we had a healthy amount of pre-booked appointments and returning customers wanting to visit on day one. This Saturday is fully booked everywhere for example.
And the footfall in Cambridge in particular has also been busy this week and much busier than straight after the last lockdowns and too.
We also had customers wanting re-sizes, to drop off items for re-working, things like that, so whilst we were open during lockdown online, customers have been planning to come in person to physically hand over their jewellery, check their ring size, et cetera.
Was it a difficult or long process preparing the shop for customers?
The studios were all already safely set up but it was nice to clear out all the cabinets and start them all fresh with new displays and window display. Everything needed another good clean of course but we already have the things in place for safe working from before. We are pleased with our spring displays too.
How do you anticipate footfall being in the coming weeks?
We think people will want to come in. We already had people calling to ask if they could come in and browse whilst we were still in lockdown (which, of course, they couldn’t), so people seem very confident.
I also think there may be people wanting to have Zoom consultations and then also visit in person, to select their gemstone for example.
Is there anything brands can do to help ease the process?
I have noticed some brands are not making it clear on their website and social media whether they are open or not which is not wise.
Has the government given enough support?
The government support has been amazing and the furlough scheme in particular has kept us going.
We have not had to lose anybody because of the lockdowns so far and with a team of 40 we are very proud of that and very grateful that a few people could be furloughed or work part-time and still receive support for the rest of their time.
I do wish that there was insistence from the government that shop landlords had to slash rents when shops had to be closed as that has been a challenge.