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CORDER’S COLUMN: We can do four weeks, but not a day longer

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Closing non-essential shops over the covid quarter cost UK retailers £1.6 billion per week in lost sales, according to the British Retail Consortium, and that was in the spring, not a month before Christmas.

There is a lot more on the line now we are entering the busiest period of the year, but at least jewellers are better prepared this time.

Ecommerce expanded dramatically during the covid quarter and the months since. Clienteling, where retailers reach out directly to their best customers and potentially visit them with luxury watches and jewellery to buy, has also ramped-up.

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If an authorised dealer has stock of limited editions or unicorn watches from the likes of Audemars Piguet, Rolex and Patek Philippe, there will be ways of securing sales through this four week lock down.

As things stand today, there is no lock down in Switzerland that would interrupt production of watches, as happened in the first wave, and wholesalers in this country are expected to keep supply moving.

Away from the blockbuster watch brands, business will be a lot tougher, but succumbing to despair will only make things worse. Brands and retailers must generate demand and, even if watches do not sell through in November, customers must be encouraged to spend in December.

In my opinion, jewellers should not have been shut down, not least because a recent Sage paper reported that closing non-essential retail would have minimal impact on the transmission of covid, but we are where we are and business owners can only control how their team responds.

Every jeweller I have spoken to this week says a four week lock down is hugely unwelcome (several said a two week circuit breaker over half term would have been far better) but survivable.

What is critical, however, is that four weeks of lock down does not turn into five or six. There is a tipping point on the high street beyond which there is no chance of recovering from a pre-Christmas splurge and that will trigger a flood of store closures in the new year.

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Tags : ClientelingCorder's ColumnecommerceLock down
Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder