With Christmas just around the corner, it’s a tough time of year for small businesses. However, imagine being both a small business and within the hospitality industry.
The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit in 2020, as almost all businesses were ordered to close through both lockdowns.
Sweet Genius is situated on Bolton Rd, Swinton, and they are one of those small businesses. They specialise in selling freshly baked desserts.
For Sweet Genius, Covid-19 couldn’t have struck at a worse time. Their business opened in March, only to be hit by the first lockdown not even two weeks later.
Due to the opening that month, it also meant that they got no support through government schemes.
The First Lockdown for Salford business
“We didn’t qualify because we missed all the deadlines. My contract that I signed with the previous owner was signed on the 7th of March, like a week after the deadline and that created a lot of problems. We’ve pretty much been chasing our tails since.” Said owner of Sweet Genuis, Cherrelle Ekekpe.
The same with a lot of businesses, Cherrelle had to find other ways to get through lockdown. Fortunately, she had plenty of friends and family willing to help her get through it, to keep costs low.
“My brother got furloughed from his job which meant he could come here and help me. My Dad did all the construction work in the shop and he chipped in where he could.”
Adapting to Customer Habits
As the first lockdown died down, Sweet Genius noticed a heavier footfall outside the shop, realising that people were beginning to use the takeaway/order service. It is thought that this was down to people feeling unsafe in such small establishments, even though the government had given them permission to open. This meant the business had to adapt, they lowered their stock levels and changed their opening times in order to maximise profit.
Like a lot of smaller businesses, using social media throughout lockdown was extremely important to them. They have a popular Instagram page where they share their newest releases and their revised opening times. They would change their deals every week to see what was popular with customers, doing their best to bring as much money in as possible.
Whilst this is a strategy they’ve used throughout the second lockdown, they’ve also noticed interaction on their socials has decreased.
“I feel like maybe, a lot of people are taking social media breaks and trying not to digest all the information that you get on your socials. That was a bit tricky this week.”
The Second Lockdown
Just as the business started picking back up for Sweet Genius, the second lockdown hit and struck them twice as hard, along with other Salford business.
“Going into this second lockdown we had consistently good sales and it was like the first time that I managed to pay the overheads from the shop through profits. The first week of lockdown, which was last week, was the quietest we’ve had since opening.”
Helping the Salford business Community
Despite struggling themselves, they are doing everything possible to help their customers through the tough Christmas period ahead.
“I’m trying to do my bit to help people through it. I’m introducing payment options. Things like celebration cakes are the more expensive items so it can help people who want to spoil their loved ones but can’t afford the extra pressure.”
In times of uncertainty, the community needs to help each other, both businesses and patrons alike. At this time of year, spend your money on small, local businesses; they’ll appreciate it more than you’ll know.
For more information about Sweet Genius, visit their website
Follow Sweet Genius on Instagram