There are four bank holidays about to fall over two weekends in the UK. This will lead to a three day working week sandwiched between two four day working weeks, and to be honest couldn’t come at a worse time for many online sellers.
Not only is the Easter break traditionally when buyers desert their computers in favour of some sunny days out or working on their garden, but it comes after a VAT rise and as sellers face an increase in Royal Mail postage prices. The Bank Holidays Dates are: 22nd April – Good Friday; 25th April – Easter Monday; 29th April – Royal Wedding and 2nd May – Early May Bank Holiday.
If you employ staff you need to check your employment contracts before you decide how to handle the bank holidays. If your contract specifies the minimum 28 days holiday (four weeks plus 8 bank holidays) then you may not have to pay them for the extra day off for the Royal Wedding. If your employment contracts are more loosely worded to 20 days plus bank holidays then it’s likely you’ll have to pay employees for the extra Bank Holiday on the 29th April.
Regardless of the legal entitlement it’s likely many companies will pay their staff for the Royal Wedding Bank Holiday for the sake of good will, but what’s likely to be a bigger concern is staff booking three days annual leave for the 26th – 28th April or simply calling in sick and not showing up for work for 11 days.
David Brackin of Stuff U Sell told us: “We are very happy for the Royal Couple and hope they have a wonderful day. I don’t think any of the team are invited to the event itself, but we have given everyone at Stuff U Sell an extra day’s holiday and we hope they will enjoy the time off. However, we are concerned about the potential business impact with so many Bank Holidays so close together.Depending on the weather, sales might be unusually high or completely fall off, and with Royal Mail and couriers working just a few days, we might see a repeat of the pre-Christmas network clogging caused by snow.
Right now, I don’t know whether the three days in the middle will be a mad rush to ship things or completely dead – and I really hate uncertainty and change in business: it attacks the confidence you need to invest in growth”.
The cost to the UK economy for a bank holiday is around £6billion, although with the Royal Wedding that’s likely to be somewhat mitigated by tourism and extra business for pubs and restaurants. However that provides little cheer for online retailers who aren’t likely to see much uplift in business.
The next couple of weeks are likely to be as troublesome as Christmas for seller standards. DSRs and maintaining Top Rated Seller status will be at the front of sellers minds, as will be returning to work each Tuesday facing five days worth of sales needing to be packed and despatched.
It’s very likely that your courier won’t be collecting or delivering over the extended weekends, but you should also ensure that any stock orders are placed in advance and that you have sufficient packaging supplies to see you though the bank holiday periods.
To weather the Bank Holiday period you’ll need to step up communications with buyers. Those buyers ordering on a Thursday will doubtless enjoy the long weekend, but by Tuesday they’ll be wondering why their parcel hasn’t been delivered and forget that businesses have been closed. You may want to consider (at a cost!) upgrading slow delivery services to faster or expedited services. A 3-5 day delivery service posted between the two bank holiday weekends could result in a 12-14 day delivery experience for customers who miss the last post on the 21st April.
Communications will be key, especially with overseas customers who may not even be aware that the UK is closed for business over the extended weekends.
Whilst I wish the Royal Couple a lovely sunny day for their wedding, I can’t help hoping the weather is terrible over Easter and drives people inside to be bored and spending their money online.
Bad weather over both Bank Holiday weekends is probably the best thing that could happen for many online retailers.