As retailers start to prepare for life after lockdown, with Boris Johnson set to deliver a “comprehensive plan” on Sunday, firms in London are preparing for the reality that people still may want to avoid the capital, even when restrictions ease.
The UK has now officially overtaken Italy to become the country worst affected by coronavirus in Europe, with London still recording the most cases.
And although the capital has “reached the peak” and shown signs of a steady decline, many businesses fear that even if the government allow people to travel to the city, many will be hesitant to do so.
London-based independent jeweller EC One has taken advantage of the government furloughing schemes, however some team members have starting making again now the companies the business uses are back up and running.
During the lockdown, the jeweller has been very active online, regularly posting on social media to ensure the business stay connected with its consumers.
And this, alongside a concierge service, will be a strategy that remains for the foreseeable future as owner, Jos Skeates, believes consumers will be hesitant to come to London post-lockdown.
He shares with Professional Jeweller: “With regard to retail it still feels quite uncertain, so our focus has been on how we engage with our customers. When I first started EC One we didn’t have a shop as such so I used to do home appointments. I would go to a client’s house or flat, show them my portfolio of previous work, talk through what they would like, show them stones and do some sketches. Eventually we would agree on a design and price.
“As we don’t feel there’s going to be the same willingness to come into London on public transport and queue to be seen we plan to offer the same ‘concierge service’ for our customers. We will set up an appointment calendar and take a small deposit, and talk through what they would like to see beforehand. We hope going directly to our customers is going to give them more confidence and trust than just buying something online unseen.”
For those wanting to pop into store though, the independent jeweller will remain open once the government give the green light, with social distancing measures in place alongside extra health and safety precautions.
“We hope that over time things will return to some sort of normality,” Skeates adds.