During many days of confinement, Sonia has seen herself shutting down the family furniture store that she has run for four years. Invoices do not understand quarantines and deal with them with almost no sales he left his accounts “practically at zero”.“I was very afraid of having a blank month. Normally we pay in 20 and 30 days and of course, we were without producing. The money you have invested in furniture that you do not sell, and that was my problem and that of many stores ”, he tells the phone from his establishment, ‘Muebles Lenza’, in San Agustín de Guadalix (Madrid). “I haven’t stopped thinking about the business for a day. We diverted the phone, I set up the office of the store in the living room of my house … I put that I attended everywhere social networks, web … Even by tam tam “.
Those days, when the orders came with drops, he never imagined that in May it would have double sales than last year. Because as the weeks progressed, the orders kept accumulating until at times they were saturated. “I have attended even at night in dreams,” he says now. “I have saved the crisis, I don’t play castanets, but I thought this was going to be my downfall … Those were very distressing days and now we can finally breathe a little.”
I thought this was going to be my ruin, they were very distressing days and now we can finally breathe a little
First, it was work chairs and computer tables: “In mid-April, when it was seen that teleworking was going for longA lot of people started buying office furniture because they were working on the dining room chairs. ” Then came the sofas and mattresses, when the hours of confinement took their toll on joints not used to being home for so long. “Many people have noticed that it had very bad furniture. They were fine to spend a couple of hours a day, but not that long. So with what they have saved these weeks without leaving, they are investing it in the home, ”says Santiago Gallego, president of the Habitat Trade Association of Madrid.
Santiago Gallego in his home furniture store (on loan)
Purchases were growing, sometimes arising from the need for a pandemic. “We have sold enough mattresses for weddings in which one has become ill and, as it had to be in isolation, the other had to sleep in the hallway or in the office”Adds Gallego from his ‘Noel’ store, in the Madrid neighborhood of San Blas-Canillejas.
Both the unions of the furniture trade, as well as the appliance and hardware trade, share that the situation is more optimistic than they predicted as the de-escalation progresses. Time at home has exacerbated needs, sparked hobbies and recovered sloppy sloppies, which are concentrated in small businesses due to the closure of shopping malls and a new neighborhood feeling stemming from the solidarity that (sometimes) causes the pandemic.
This is not the case for all businesses, because any sale depends on factors such as geographical situation and type of clientele in the environment. “In my case, a sale has been noticed in online orders, but practically no one enters the street, also because this is a very touristy neighborhood and right now there is no such public. Neither did the clients who came to me from the outskirts of Madrid and entered when they were walking around here, “says Margarita, who runs ‘K’alido Decor’ a home decoration and furniture store near Huertas, a traditional leisure area now deserted from activity. “Yes, the phone won’t stop ringing all day, although especially for small things, decoration or auxiliary furniture, although sales are very far from those of other years ”.
37 kilometers from there, where Sonia has her store, another factor is added: shopping malls will be closed until phase 2, so all the population that used the nearby Ikea or Leroy Merlin, now choose to go close to home. “And they don’t want to travel to bigger places by car either, so they ask someone they know and look for us on the internet or in the town forum.”
There are already several who have told us that they have endured us opening to come because they did not want to buy online
“Here you can also see the closing of the shopping malls,” says Rafael in a hole, taking orders from his Tien21 franchise located on Avenida de la Albufera. “It’s crazy, we have started much better than we expected. But mostly I think it’s because the clients they are very aware of the importance of local commerce. Several have already told us that they have put up with us opening to come because they did not want to buy online. ” In your case, sales have increased 25% compared to May 2019.
Consumption in recent weeks is a good reflection of the different concerns that society has been going through. At first, in this store in the southeast of Madrid, what they sold the most were freezers for store in uncertain times. Also hot water boilers, which could not stand the increase in activity inside the house. Now, what is most in demand are small appliances, especially those in the kitchen section. “Hand blenders, kneaders, weights … And also air conditioners now that the heat is coming, ”says Rafael.
Chamartin Hardware Store in Bravo Murillo (Facebook)
“In general what we are seeing is that the agent has endured confinement, has not pulled the online market unless something breaks,” explains José Manuel Fernández president of ACEMA, an association that brings together the appliance and kitchen furniture sector.
In addition, many stores had to completely close both physically and virtually if they could not go to the warehouse to send the orders. “And now people are responding by going to the small business because they have become aware. First it was with food and now with us. Besides that it is the closest thing because it is in the neighborhood and we still don’t move much, ”he adds.
Alberto, in charge of ‘Ferretería Chamartín’ located on Bravo Murillo street since 1934, has been asked by more than a dozen people not to close: “They tell us that they will keep coming to buy. A lot of new people are coming, it has surprised me a lot ”. Now they mainly sell masks, gloves, visors and cleaning and disinfection products, but also a lot of DIY, taking advantage of the fact that the nearby AKI or Leroy Merlin are not now competition. “People have missed closing hardware stores because they could have done a lot of DIY at home during confinement. So now we are selling a lot of paint and things to fix the home. We have also noticed that people have been watching many DIY video tutorials and they ask for more advice to do it themselves at home. ”
People have missed closing hardware stores because they could have done things during confinement
“In my store they are even giving us tips,” says Javier Fresneda, owner of the Javier Hardware Store, in Torrejón de Ardoz while removing the mask and visor that he uses to attend and get on the phone. “We are very happy, in May We have increased the influx of people by 50% and turnover by 10% higher than last year, which was good. We have not had to do ERTE, but we have attended as we could ”.
If in the old normality about 300 people came to his store daily, this Wednesday, for example, he dispatched 420. Part of the credit he attributes to the attention they have given in the worst moments. “If an old lady called you, her fluorescent lamp had gone out, What were you going to do, don’t you change it? What if he can’t pay you at the moment, or only part of it, you leave it without him? So now people are responding, because we have been there. And for the toilets, the first, at least in our case, “says Fresneda, also vice president of the Ferreteros union AGREFEMA.
Computer chairs and freezers were initially sold. Now DIY and kitchen appliances
In his case, where they have moved the most has been through Facebook and, above all, Instagram. “For example with the masks, we upload all the models we had and people ordered us what they wanted and came for it“, Explain. Many have taken advantage of physical closure to reinvent themselves on their online channels. “People who had no online marketing training have been developing it. Above all, it was not implemented due to ignorance of the channel, but with this many entrepreneurs have realized that they were losing income out there, ”explains Gallego, from Habitat.
However, this channel does not work as well for Fresneda as word of mouth and ‘being there’: “For us, the internet is impossible because we can’t compete with Amazon, has done us a lot of damage. That is why we prefer to move locally and that people meet us by networks and come. Beat them in the attention ”, he explains.
“In the end, what interests people is that they solve problems for them, and that is what we hardware workers have always done,” he says. “Now the mentality has completely changed and society is returning to small business. And hopefully he stays, we would have to be very clumsy not knowing how to serve them now. ”