By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A major Bahamian hardware retailer yesterday said its online sales were equal to just 20 percent of those generated in-store, describing curb side sales as “very difficult to execute”.
Brent Burrows, CBS Bahamas (Commonwealth Building Supplies) general manager, told Tribune Business that it was pushing customers to online purchasing via its website as curb side pick-up was “not as easy” as many customers believe.
“The online sales are going quite well. Of course it’s not as good as when the store is open. It’s up and down,” he said of the company’s website sales, “but online is maybe around 20 percent of what we do normally. It’s nowhere near when the store is open. It’s growing, and at least it’s something coming in and helps to cover the bills.
‘‘The curb side thing is very difficult to execute. It’s not as easy as one may think. As a customer comes in and wants 50 screws, it’s not easy to execute. That’s why we’ve been trying to encourage people to use the website. Curb side ordering is mainly for contractors with the job sites being open.
“With the online shopping we have separate portals for existing customers, and it’s very helpful for contractors as they can go in and place orders and pick up or have them delivered on designated days.”
Some retailers have elected not to open for curb side services, seemingly believing that the costs involved outweigh the benefits. Kelly’s Home Centre, via its Facebook page, has confirmed it is closed for the duration of the two-week lockdown, saying: “We have received an overwhelming amount of responses to the post indicating closure of Kelly’s House & Home.
“Please be advised that Kelly’s House & Home is currently closed due to the Government’s mandate of a minimum two-week lockdown.” However, many other hardware stores have joined CBS Bahamas in opening on the days permitted under the Government’s COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Builder’s Mall, which includes F.Y.P, Tile King and the Paint Centre, said in an e-mail: “Builders Mall is open for pick up and delivery Monday, Wednesday and Friday through the current lock down from 7am to 4pm. When arriving at Builders Mall, enter the drive through and please stay in your vehicle and wear a mask. A Builders Mall associate will be out to greet you.
“We thank you for your support and understanding during a rapidly evolving situation as we make every effort to support our customers, associates, and the communities we serve.”
Mr Burrows, meanwhile, confirmed that CBS Bahamas plans to keep all staff employed for the next two weeks after it was granted permission to restock on Tuesday and Thursday. “It’s a bit disappointing that we had to get back to the stage we’re at now,” he told Tribune Business of the latest lockdown.
“I guess it’s something they [the Government] had to do and we have to live with it, and hopefully we will get businesses back open in a couple of weeks. Fortunately for us our contracts division is not affected as the construction sites are open, so that is a big plus for us.
“We somehow have got to figure out how we’re going to live with this thing [COVID-19] because it’s not likely to go anywhere any time soon..... It’s a lot of uncertainty, trying to keep staff calm. Everyone’s unsure what’s happening. Fortunately, we’re able to do a bit. I’ve got a lot of friends completely shut down and no income coming in.”