Locals living in isolated villages in the Cornish countryside are being well served by their local independent retailer during the lockdown thanks to a raft of initiatives introduced in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Gary Batten who runs two stores in the St Austell area of Cornwall, is now seeing almost a quarter of his business coming through home deliveries after launching same day deliveries in March.
And shoppers reluctant to visit large supermarkets have welcomed the steps taken at St Stephen and Nanpean, leading to an increase in sales of almost 40% across the two stores since the onset of Covid-19.
The new home delivery service along with a website and increased publicity across social media platforms have contributed to an increase in overall turnover of 56% over the last year.
Batten said, “We have been unbelievably busy and worked 12-hour days every day for 10 weeks or more now. A lot of people just don’t want to go into the big supermarkets and instead are choosing us.
“We have listened to what our customers have said, what they want and have tried to respond and offer additional services that support them during these times.
“Everything we’re doing is about our customers – what they need now and also with a view to retaining them, both old and new, after all this is over.”
Using a team of volunteer drivers, shoppers place their orders via email using a link on the new website, make payment over the phone and are charged £1 for the service, regardless of how much or little their order is.
To ensure staff and shopper safety most orders are picked from the shelves before the store opens and rang through a till that has been purposely re-located into the back of the store where it is then bagged up and collected by the drivers via the rear entrance.
Batten added, “We have had to adapt to the changing situation in order to move forward with the business. If you don’t adapt you won’t survive and the feedback we’ve had from customers has been absolutely amazing.”