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Party retailers respond to the UK’s non-essential business shutdown

Shops in the UK selling non-essential products were ordered to close last night (Monday 23 March) following an announcement from prime minister Boris Johnson, in a dramatic step to combat the spread of Covid-19. / Progressive Party spoke to a number of party retailers to see how they are dealing with the new restrictions and what it is likely to mean for them.

Mike Hurst, Balloons By Reds

“Even though we are now a delivery only business, we have decided to follow the guidelines and close the business. We have been hit with cancellations and it’s massively hurting us. There are rumours of an announcement today for self employed support, so fingers crossed! In the meantime it’s a case of putting together some packages ready for when we’re in the clear and people can party again.”

Justin Heaven, Fantasy World

“We are British, we will get by one way or another. Bills will be paid and hopefully – fingers crossed – our business will continue. However, I would like to put a plea out to all the suppliers to help their retailers as much as they can. There is no point their warehouses being full of product because we can not afford to restock. Sale or return on lines could be an idea, or extended credit terms etc.  Small businesses may be reluctant to borrow the chancellor’s ‘cheap loans’ but the larger suppliers could borrow to help invest in a chain of established independents?

I hope the business comes through this as it’s a worrying time. One thing is for sure though – the minute this is over , people will want to get out and do things, so it could all have a happy ending.

Can I finally add, the Facebook page UK Costume & Fancy Dress Shops has been an excellent help. Being able to message worries and advice at this time, finding out what other store owners are doing – I urge everyone to join as we are all in this together.”

Mike Harris, For Every Occasion

“After almost 15 years we have had to close down the shop for the time being.  We have also closed our online business as we cannot deliver the bouquets.  The government has said essential travel only and we don’t see delivering someones balloons as essential and I am sure the police wouldn’t either.

It is a very sad day but we need to protect as many people as possible and of course our amazing NHS. I have moved my office and work phones to home so I can catch up on paperwork and work on our website.  These are going to be tough times but I think if we can get the grants promised we could make it through to the other side.

I would also like to say to all my balloon friends around the world, stay safe and we will all get through this together.”

Shirlee Gibbs, The Dressing Up Shop

“Life for us couldn’t be more difficult at the moment. We decided to close last Saturday, having contacted all our suppliers to settle our stock bills and informed all utilities etc.

We put the most colourful windows in and moved a large gondola across the centre of the shop and put our lovely Easter bunny in full view with bunting and appropriate stock.  I was in full swing preparing our pantomime dames costumes for 2020 so that will all be now done at home when weather gets miserable.

We are all healthy so no complaints.  My husband and I are enjoying time together and all those jobs in the garden are at last getting done. Just the paperwork to tackle that’s the downside! Keep safe, we’re ready to party as and when we return.

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