An independent retailer has hailed the impact of a 24-hour post office branch in his new central London c-store, as a raft of other shop owners prepare to open branches in the capital.
Amarjit Singh, owner of The Convenience Store on New Oxford Street, recently opened the first of 25 branches that the Post Office has earmarked for central London. Six new branches are set to open in independent stores in February.
He told C-Store that the post office branch was performing “better than expected” after dark, serving an average of about 40 customers per night. Retail sales are also up about 10% on December.
“People are travelling quite a long way to use it – one woman came all the way down from Harrow [north of London],” he said.
Amarjit added he was hoping to replicate the 24-hour model in some of his other five stores in central London.
He said the main challenge was customers’ confusion over cut-off delivery times. “If people drop off a parcel at 11,50pm, they often think it will be delivered the following day. The cut off time is 5pm – there needs to be more communication on that.”
Martin Hulks, Post Office Network Development Lead, London, said 90-95% of the new central London stores would be in independent c-stores, but the organisation was also looking at alternative models such as libraries, pharmacies and gyms.
“We will take the learnings form central London and roll them out to other parts of the country,” he told C-Store. “Our presence in urban areas isn’t as much as our competitors.”
He also said the Post Office was focusing more on training staff prior to and just after opening. “We want people to feel supported.”
Hulks said the Post Office had worked a lot with banks to encourage them to highlight the “huge banking opportunities” within post offices to their customers, in light of bank branch closures.
However, he confirmed that the Post Office was not currently looking to raise the level of payment per transaction.