Local retailer hopes record sales won’t come to abrupt end as lockdown ends

Michael Rackham of ER & RT Rackham Ltd Picture: ER & RT RACKHAM LTD

Michael Rackham of ER & RT Rackham Ltd Picture: ER & RT RACKHAM LTD - Credit: Archant

An animal feed and fuel merchants is hoping that after doing a roaring trade during lockdown customers will continue to support local retailers.

Michael Rackham, manager of ER & RT Rackham Ltd, said sales hit the roof during March with products of all kinds flying off the shelves.

“People were panic buying everything – animal feeds, solid fuel, logs, kindling and the worst of all for a few weeks was potatoes. We sold over seven tonnes in one week,” he said.

MORE – Counties’ farmers ‘value public’s support’ as UK workers flock to take up rolesSales of flour at the merchants – based at Deben Mills in Wickham Market, Woodbridge – also hit a high as the store was inundated with orders for home deliveries.

“Being ex flour millers ourselves, we have always sold flour away from Deben Mills, but all of a sudden that was at an all-time high demand. We experienced high volumes of phone calls wanting to even know what time our lorries were arriving back at the yard with it,” he said.

“People were literally panic buying everything. My father, David Rackham – one of the directors – confirmed it was the busiest March he had ever experienced and I’m sure in the 135 years we have been trading it was the busiest ever. For us, it was Beast from the East times 10.”

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Compost was also in high demand, with 44 pallets sold in the space of just two weeks after garden centres shut down.

Most customers were patient and willing to wait for deliveries, he said. The merchants put in place a phone and collect system in place, leaving goods in the yard for customers to collect.

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“The winter months are notoriously our busiest and we then went straight from winter into this,” he said.

“We had a very good response from the local community and all in all our customers have been very supportive and thankful of us staying open. We are slowly returning to some sort of normality as people have got to obviously use what they purchased from us in the first place.” He praised his “hard-working” staff who “worked relentlessly” throughout the pandemic and a very uncertain climate.

As an essential retailer, his business decided to stay open during lockdown to keep customers warm and fed and had put in six or seven-day weeks, he said. But he wondered whether the public would continue to support local businesses like his post-lockdown.

“Unfortunately I can see the general public going back to the old ways of convenience and online shopping,” he admitted.

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