Well what a crazy year it has been; correction: what a crazy year it is. Who knew when we were toasting in the new year that buzz words of 2020 would include ‘social distancing’, that fashion accessories would include face masks and that life as we knew it in 2019 would quickly dissipate into a fond memory; the ‘new normal’ would take over and ‘happy birthday’ became much more than a tune just to serenade in your birthday cake.
So what are the issues for us now? Well, firstly there is the environment; the environmental reasons for why pandemics happen and there are the environmental impacts of the pandemic, and there are the economic impacts of the lock down; and then there are the noticeable changes in people’s shopping habits. These may all seem bigger than us and our little business, and they are, but like all companies we need to adapt and evolve whilst keeping to our ethos.
Here in the UK lockdown was established on the 23rd March 2020. In the weeks that followed, clapping for the NHS, scrubs armies, banana bread, rainbows, the Downing Street daily updates and Joe Wicks all took centre stage. In the Colville Leather ‘bubble’ a new family member was welcomed; a real lockdown baby; who is now an expert in Zoom.
We became really aware of local businesses around us during lockdown. Without the luxury of popping out for a coffee no longer being a ‘thing’, and having run out of coffee at one point (that’s not a situation you want to be in with a newborn and toddler in your arms) we discovered Voyager Coffee right down the road in Buckfastleigh. What awesome coffee this is, in their own words ‘outstanding coffee delivered straight to your door’. Just like Colville Leather, being inspired by local landscapes is their thing, and they roast award-winning coffees. Delicious, Voyager Coffee is a habit we are not giving up post-civid.
Another local business that met the sweet needs of locals was Big Bakes Bakery in Torquay. With treat boxes seemingly harder to get hold of than Willy Wonker’s golden ticket, they rose to the challenge of delivering boxes of cupcake cheer to the grateful residents of South Devon, even expanding business further afield to other post codes and postal services. Yes, Colville Leather is a BIG fan of Big Bakes!
And then (of course not in order of priority), there were the veg boxes (thank you Devon Fresh) and the milk deliveries (thank you Milk and More) that kept us going whilst we tried and often failed to secure delivery slots from the supermarkets whilst isolating with a newborn baby.
For the fashion industry, it’s interesting. Loungewear became popular and I recall seeing somewhere that online sales of ’tops’ were popular whilst whole outfits weren’t required for the new age of Zoom. Then online and in-store sales came…
According to the Independent https://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/lockdown-change-spending-habits-save-spend-shopping-consumer-buy-a9567701.html shoppers were spending longer mulling over purchases over Lockdown with psychology playing a big role in spending behaviours (as well no doubt, as financial stability or lack of). the ‘lipstick effect’ saw shoppers treat themselves with small luxuries whilst bigger purchases are off the cards.
Time seemed to be on the side of small businesses though. Time, and being internet based (thank you to the postal key workers) levelled the playing field somewhat. Lots of businesses we follow reported on their Insta stories that they were finding themselves busy adapting and keeping up with customer demand (Wyatt and Jack and Elizabeth and Ernest to name but two). Thoughtful lockdown gifts became a selling point on Etsy and it seemed that people still wanted a taste of a little luxury in dark times.
With pleas now circulating social media asking consumers to remember the businesses that we shopped with during lockdown post-Covid, it remains to be seen, as things open up whether old shopping habits truly do ‘die hard’.
We have all heard big brands and shops falling victim during the pandemic; for a multitude of reasons. For independent businesses, this is our time to rise to the challenge as we hope that things like product longevity, environmental impact, quality and choice keep the hunger alive to support the smaller enterprises. Colville Leather has kept going and we hope that our handcrafted parcels of loveliness have provided a little joy to our customers whilst they have been keeping safe at home.