As most of you will know, Atkinsons had to temporarily close-down on Monday to conform with Government regulations connected with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
These are challenging times for all of us, entering the unknown and not knowing what to expect. These thoughts made me think of the challenges that previous generations faced during the two world wars, when for years they were in a state of not knowing what was going to happen and faced some appalling conditions.
For the last 75 years many of us have not experienced anything like that but interestingly, the way our customers reacted during the war and in today’s crisis, are not dissimilar. During the Sheffield blitz of 1940, the store was directly hit by an incendiary bomb and the building was totally destroyed, apart from some pennies (today’s equivalent to 1p) that were found in some weighing scales. Total destruction and devastation for Sheffield and the store, with everything being lost but even at that terrible time, our customers rallied round and of those that owed the Company money, 80% brought their money in to pay their bills and ensured the future of the business.
Since we closed on Monday, we have been inundated by customers wanting to know how they pay their accounts as they don’t want to cause Atkinsons any hardship. I think, the comparison says a lot about Sheffield people and how caring they are and for me, as the fourth generation of the business, is particularly touching and I would like to thank everyone for their continued support and loyalty which of lot of retail business don’t have these days.
Atkinsons has always been special in Sheffield. An independent department store, family run, where everyone is welcome and shopping is still an enjoyable past time. Our staff are fantastic, hard working and love what they do, which makes our customers feel comfortable. Atkinsons, now has over forty departments, three restaurants and a car park with 440 spaces directly above the store, and once people find us they never want to go elsewhere! We are one of the very few large independent businesses left in the country and we look forward to welcoming you all back on our return!
During the close down this week everyone has worked so hard to prepare the building, so that we will be ready to go, once we are given the all clear. We are starting to hear more positive things from the parts of the world that have experienced Coronavirus before us and let’s hope we can all return to normal before too long.
See you soon, take care and stay safe.