Things to think about before you close your store for four weeks:
- Security – check all windows and doors, take away any cash.
- Phones – do you need to record a message saying you are closed? Do you need to divert your landline to a mobile?
- Emails – do you need to set up an auto-reply saying you are closed or will someone be answering emails from home?
- Social media – do you need to update your opening hours on your social media? Have you posted a message to customers?
- Courier and mail deliveries – what will happen to these while you are closed? Can you divert them to a residential address for security? How will couriers arriving at your closed store know where to go?
- Perishables – check the fridge in your staffroom (and parents/caregivers, make sure you get those lunchboxes out of school bags!)
- Staying in contact with staff – check in on each other while you are in lockdown. If you don’t have one already, perhaps consider setting up a FaceBook group, a WhatsApp chat or other mechanism to keep in touch. We have listed some helpful resources on our website to deal with mental health in these difficult times.
- Make sure you have sent all redeemed Booksellers Tokens to us for processing. We will still process redemptions as close to the day of receipt as possible and this money might be important for your cashflow as the month goes on.
Things to do while you are closed:
These four weeks present the ideal opportunity to indulge in what booksellers do best – read! Before you all leave the store, divvy up those reading copies. Now is the time to get a head start on forthcoming publications and write reviews for newsletters and social media.
Think about ways you can maintain communication and interest with your customers during the shutdown. Regular posting, getting creative and encouraging engagement. People will be home and online more, and they will be in need of community. Remember that bookshops are important community hubs; let’s maintain that role even when we are closed. At Booksellers NZ, we will use the power of our own social media to boost your posts.
This is also a great time to think about what position your business will be in when this crisis comes to an end. Can you be working on improvements to your online store while you are working from home? If and when the restrictions end, your online store is likely to bounce back faster than your retail presence so you will want to take advantage. We can help with this so please make contact if you want to talk through your options.
Wage subsidy scheme
Wage subsidies are available for all employers that are significantly impacted by Covid-19 and are struggling to retain employees as a result. A further update to the scheme was announced on Monday. The subsidy now applies to all employers, contractors, sole traders, self-employed people, registered charities and incorporated societies.
- your business must be registered and operating in New Zealand;
- your employees must be legally working in New Zealand;
- the business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19;
- your business must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19; and
- you must make best efforts to retain employees and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal income for the subsidised period.
The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy will be paid at a flat rate of:
- $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week
- $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week.
The subsidy is paid as a lump sum and covers 12 weeks per employee. This subsidy is for wages only. It is to help you keep your staff employed while you consider changes that may be needed while the disruption continues, and to ensure the future viability of your business.
The application is straight-forward and, according to anecdotal evidence, is being paid out within days of application and all 12 weeks are paid in a lump sum. We urge you to apply without delay. The application form can be found here: https://services.workandincome.govt.nz/ess/employer_applications/new
When you apply, you will need to have handy:
- your IRD number;
- your New Zealand Business Number (you can find that here);
- name, address, and contact details;
- your employees’ details (include full-time and part-time employees in the same application): names, IRD numbers, and dates of birth.
You do not need to submit evidence of the decline in revenue with your application. But you should ensure that you have this available if you are asked for it at a later date.
In applying for the wage subsidy, you as the employer will need to declare that you will use your best endeavours to continue to employ the affected employees at a minimum of 80% of their income for the duration of the subsidy period. (This is the equivalent of keeping people working 4 out of 5 days of the week.) You must also have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and sign a declaration form to that effect. Please read carefully the declaration form.
If we can help you with your application, please contact us.
Here’s what the American Booksellers Association is telling its members. A lot of this has an obvious US focus, and things are quite different there (from the spread to the official advice to employment laws), but you may find at least some of it useful reading.
Here is a link to advice from the UK Booksellers Association to its members. It includes some suggested social media copy, which you can adapt for your own FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram posts:
Bookshops are great places of solace, information, community and friendship. They are also well-placed to take orders over the phone, provide personal shopping via social media, and post you your next great read. Support your high street in these challenging times #ChooseBookshops
Connection matters. Community matters. Bookshops matter. Now, more than ever, remember to support your local bookshop. #ChooseBookshops
Are you social-distancing? You’ll need some reading material. If you can’t make it to your local bookshop, get in touch with them via phone or email and they’ll post the books straight to your home. #ChooseBookshops
Bookshops are great community hubs, especially during troubled times. They can give great recommendations and help with bookish requirements over the phone and on social media, and then post straight to your door. #ChooseBookshops
Closer to home, here is the advice to members from the Australian Booksellers Association.
Now is the time to think laterally. Stay active on social media, remind your customers about your online presence and your ability to deliver to those who are housebound.
American “retail trainer” WhizBang! has produced a free video guide to “Preparing Your Store for the Global Spread of Coronavirus”, which may be worth a look.
Nielsen has been looking at how consumers are reacting; for an insightful read, you can look here.