Posted: 05/09/2016

Rufus Carter: Nine to five is ‘okay for Dolly’ but not for delis

opening hours and round the clock home deliveries
Carter said younger shoppers will soon abandon small stores if they are not open when needed

Town centre independents will need to open their doors from 7am until early evening to compete in a world of round-the-clock home deliveries, Patchwork Paté commercial director Rufus Carter has warned.

“Nine to five might be alright for Dolly Parton,” the speciality food producer told FFD, “but our business is changing all the time.

“If I was opening on the high street now, I would see 7pm as the earliest closing time, and if I wanted to catch the going-to-work business I would expect to be open for 7am.”

Carter was speaking to FFD for a special report in our September issue, looking at the suitability of conventional opening hours in the era of rapid delivery services like Ocado and Deliveroo.

He acknowledged that independent retailers worked far more hours than their opening times suggested, dealing with ordering or producing their own foods for sale the next day.

But he said shoppers – especially younger shoppers – were not interested in this, and would switch to other channels if traditional shops were closed. “They want to know, ‘Can I get my favourite things when I want my favourite things?’

“It’s all about staffing, so the next generation stays engaged with shopping in independent food stores.”

However, James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said shops could only open longer hours if it made financial sense.

“Many of our members open 24/7, but they’re operating in city centres with a constant stream of people throughout the day and night. For specialist stores, opening longer must make sense economically.”

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