As winter tightens its grip and temperatures take a tumble, retailers across the UK are signing up to a campaign that promises to reduce their C02 emissions, slash their fuel bills and even cut crime, without spending a penny in the process and without having to make any extra effort. Sound too good to be true? Well, in this instance it actually isn’t.

The campaign is called Close The Door, and it does pretty much what it says on the tin. The initiative originated in Cambridge, but it is now being rolled out to eight cities across the UK with the backing of shopworkers’ union USDAW and secretary of state for energy and climate change Chris Huhne.

Shut The Door campaign director Jeannie Dawkins explains how it works: “Independent research from Cambridge University’s engineering department has shown that closing a shop door in winter can save up to 50% in energy usage, leading to dramatic falls in fuel bills, while reducing its annual C02 emissions by up to 10 tonnes.

“Here is the proof that it’s time for retailers to acknowledge the massive contribution they are making to energy waste and carbon emissions if they heat the street. By simply closing the shop door, C02 emissions dramatically decrease, energy bills are reduced, and customers are made more comfortable. It’s a no-brainer,” she adds.

The campaign has also provided participants with additional benefits. According to Dawkins, convenience retailers who have signed up to the campaign have reported a fall in shoplifting, while keeping the door closed also increases the comfort and morale of store staff.

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett believes that keeping staff happy should be a top priority for store owners, and the scheme is one easy way to do that. “As well as wasting money and energy, open shop doors in winter can cause great discomfort to staff, who may spend all day in cold or fluctuating temperatures.

“Too many shops still leave their doors open even in sub-zero temperatures, which is unacceptable, unnecessary and damaging to both staff and the environment, and we urge retailers to stop it,” he says.

But while the advantages all seem to stack up, some retailers may be reluctant to close their doors in the belief it creates a barrier for customers entering and will therefore have an impact on sales.

Not at all, counters Dawkins. The belief that closed doors damage business is just as much of a myth as the belief that doors on chillers act as a barrier to sales, she points out.

She adds: “Hundreds of successful shops of all types and sizes are trading with closed doors. The Cambridge University research project found no problem, and neither have a number of detailed internal research studies conducted by Vodafone and Neal’s Yard, among others.”

The Cambridge study also showed that a working temperature reached early in the day is evenly distributed through the store (this is impossible to achieve with the door open), there are no drafts and it is more comfortable so customers tend to linger and spend.

And any lingering doubts you might have can be dispelled with the use of some eye-catching signage, explaining clearly why your door is closed to shoppers. Check out the Close The Door campaign website, www.closethedoor.org.uk, where a range of impactful door signs that read: “Please come in, we close the door against energy waste” can be downloaded or ordered.

Dawkins concludes: “Hundreds of convenience stores across the country already successfully close their doors, so you know that you really won’t lose custom. There is no downside. And you will be a great example to all those chain stores still wasting energy by heating the street.”

So if you want to keep a lid on fuel bills and staff discontent, keep your doors closed. ■

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