Shop Local: ‘I’m not that optimistic’ says independent Welwyn Garden City shop owner about future
- Credit: Matt Powell
During the initial lockdown a Welwyn Garden City shop owner said it was the first time she didn’t open in 16 years.
Julie Goodwin, who runs Natural Health in Welwyn Garden City and Hertford, said she is “normally optimistic” but that she’s “not now”.
Speaking to this paper about the initial lockdown, Julie said: “We’re classed as essential so we never actually had to close. But basically we did for about 10 days because the staff were very scared.
“I put all my staff onto furlough and then gradually bought them all back. You had to guarantee enough hours but I couldn’t do that for anyone.”
Julie had to make four people redundant between the two shops, because the sales “just weren’t there”.
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The shop offers a wide range of health supplements, vitamins and a number of therapies ranging from acupuncture to ear wax removal.
To help boost business during the start of the pandemic the shop introduced free deliveries in a five-mile radius, but still ended up going to places as far away as Royston and Barnet.
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She added: “During lockdown we did a lot of home deliveries to people in vulnerable categories, which was good of course but then it becomes quite time-consuming.
“With our landlords as well, we’ve still had to pay full rent. It’s been quite tough.
“This shop is probably 25 per cent down this week, last week was quite bad it was 65 per cent down. People are starting to come back.”
Julie described the current situation as being “as good as it has been” but added that “it’s not what we used to have at all”.
The shop has began opening on Sundays again, and has seen a slight upward trend in the number of customers.
Julie added: “I think the last two weeks people are starting to get scared about getting locked down again.
“Whatever happens we will stay open, I’m not closing this time. However, basically it’s going to wreck my business again.
“What do you do? If the customers aren’t there you can’t sell to them.
“People don’t want to go out browsing. A lot of people are being driven online. They’re not coming into town, it’s not a pleasant experience any more.”
Talking about the next six months, Julie said: “I think it’s going to be worse. I’m a really optimistic person, but I don’t know, I’m not that optimistic.”