Schoolwear Association Mailer – 01 May 2020

A message from the SA

On behalf of the Schoolwear Association we hope you and your families are safe and well. Firstly, we want to thank all of you who responded to our recent survey into how the schoolwear industry is responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as looking ahead to the back to school period and beyond.

The survey received 144 responses, which is a fantastic outcome and will help us to decide where the SA can provide any additional support to members. The findings of the survey reveal what many might have expected, our industry remains resilient and we are doing all we can to get through these challenging times despite the ongoing uncertainty.

Some of the key findings are below:

  • More than 80 per cent of businesses are already looking ahead to the impact social distancing will have on their operations.
  • Looking ahead to the summer and back to school period, although responses were mixed, many are optimistic that demand will still be there. Over half of those surveyed said they expected sales to be the same or increase between July and September compared to the same period last year.
  • Expectations for next year were also cautiously optimistic. 65 per cent of respondents said that they expected sales to be the same or increase compared to the previous year, with 27 per cent predicting a small rise in sales of 10 per cent or less.
  • Many businesses are also making the most of government support to help them through these challenging times. The vast majority of respondents have furloughed staff (85 per cent have furloughed at least three-quarters of their workforce), have or are planning to use Small Business Grants (80 per cent), and have or are planning to use the business rates relief scheme (69 per cent).

We would still strongly encourage all members to access all available government support, including the small business loan scheme (which are now 100% government guaranteed up to 25% of turnover or £50,000), to ensure they have sufficient cash in the business to trade successfully through the summer.

The full results certainly make for interesting reading and you can find them on the SA website here.

Matthew Easter and Mark Stevenson, co-chairs of the Schoolwear Association

Social distancing

The uncertainty around opening businesses back up when lockdown restrictions are lifted was the major theme of the survey.

While it is not clear when the Government will lift its restrictions and enable non-food retail stores to re-open, it is important to begin to consider how you can act now to be as prepared as possible when announcements are made.

The British Retail Consortium and the Union of Shop, Distribution and Allied Workers have released a very useful document of recommended social distancing measures for stores.

Some of the key recommendations are:

  • Ensure all staff are aware of the social distancing measures that are in place and trained on how they should support these measures being observed. Remind staff that social distancing applies in all areas of the store, including non-customer facing areas.
  • Regular and visible written or verbal communication of the Government messages.
  • Limit the number of entry and exit points into and out of store. Consider having separate entrance and exit points if possible.
  • Limit the number of customers in the store at any time. Assess the size of the store and its layout, this will enable you to calculate the number of customers who can reasonably follow 2m social distancing.
  • Encourage customers to shop alone wherever possible. Please bear in mind that this is not always possible.

The full BRC and USDAW guide is available for download here.

Further assistance with products to prepare your store to reopen with social distancing measures are available through Trutex and its partner, Kesslers, which is currently working with a number of large high street brands and supermarkets to get their stores prepared appropriately.

The first orders need to be placed by the end of the day on Friday 1 May. Exact lead times will be confirmed once everyone’s requirements are received but are likely to be one – two weeks from order.

More information, including how to order, is available via the following links:

Please click here for the full brochure of products

Please click here for the price list

Please click here for the online order form

Social media graphics

The SA has produced a range of graphics for its members to use on their own social media channels. They are designed to encourage parents to buy online, visit the store once lockdown restrictions are lifted, and to shop local during these difficult times.

You can download these here:

We are always looking for more stories about what SA members are doing during these difficult times. If you have any experiences or tips to share, please email [email protected].