Irish bookstore chain Eason plans to cut 150 jobs "and put some other staff on a four-day week from June 1 as it looks to reduce its costs by 30% in response to the financial hit from the coronavirus lockdown of the economy," the Irish Times reported, noting that the company's stores have been shuttered since March 24.
Eason aims to open four to six of its outlets on June 10, and the rest by August, "subject to the continued opening up of the economy and consumer demand," the Irish Times wrote. The retailer has contacted all of its landlords to seek rent reductions.
In a letter to staff, Eason managing director Liam Hanly said the cost-cutting measures were necessary to ensure the business "remains sustainable in the context of what we believe will be a very different retail landscape in the future." He added that the book market had declined by 20% overall since the lockdow, with online sales making up 80% of Eason's total book revenues compared with the same period of last year.
"We will continue to invest in and develop our online offering," Hanly said. "However, our success in online does lay bare the significant challenges we will face should the migration to online remain substantially or even partially permanent, with the associated impact on footfall in store."
When the Covid-19 shutdown hit Australia, indie bookshops had to "adapt or perish," the Age reported, adding that they "chose adapt, in time to catch a new kind of consumer: one who needed books more than ever. And they saw their years spent building local ties pay off."
For Sam Baker and Natalie Latter, owners of Rabble Books and Games, Maylands, "the time they'd put into creating a haven for Perth's minority groups through book clubs and events paid off," the Age noted.
"Part of what gave us the courage to adapt so quickly was as soon as it became clear small businesses were going to struggle, people came immediately wanting to buy things," Latter said. "It became clear that for people staying home with their kids they needed books. And people living by themselves, who needed ways of connecting with the world. We had so many people coming and messaging us saying, 'I haven't read a book in years but now is the time, so what can you recommend?' We really felt the weight of those recommendations--like, 'this is it.' "
At Beaufort Street Books, Mount Lawley, owner Jane Seaton said, "Our community has been absolutely lovely. The number of phone calls and comments: 'Are you OK, we don't want you going anywhere'… it's made people realize the value of what is in their local community."
Alan Sheardown, owner of Crow Books in Victoria Park, and New Edition in Fremantle, said both stores "are quite community-minded and both bookshops belong to those communities as much as me. I feel all the genuine work we've done in being the bookshop for these communities has paid dividends, in that people felt committed to it and bought books from us when there were other options. We were lucky too, in that our product was perfect for the times we were all living through."
When the modified enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) took effect on May 16, bookstores in the Philippines, which had been closed since mid-March, were once again allowed to open, but with precautions, Lifestyle.INQ reported. Major chains, including National Book Store, Fully Booked and Pandayan Bookshop, have since reopened select branches under strict safety protocols while increasing their delivery capacity. NBS has now opened more than 100 stores, Fully Booked 24 of its 31 branches and Pandayan almost all of its 134 branches nationwide.
"To date, we have no clear estimate of lost sales in our book category," said Gerardo Cabochan Jr., managing director of Pandayan. "Sales were at a standstill during the lockdown, except for the few occasions when local government units and hospitals requested that we open a store for an hour or two to serve their needs. As expected, sales were and continue to be weak because of the prolonged school break and strict constraints on the movement of people."
NBS Group managing director Xandra Ramos-Padilla commented: "We are committed to providing a safe and sanitary environment for everyone. The floors, surfaces and shopping baskets are regularly cleaned and disinfected. To ensure that proper social distancing is maintained, we are limiting the number of customers inside the store. Floor markers are installed every two meters inside and outside the store for proper queuing distancing. We also require all employees and customers to wear face masks and encourage them to use the alcohol bottles provided at our cashier counters."
Nicole Sun-Balmaceda, marketing manager at Fully Booked, said they were "also taking into consideration the welfare and capacity of our front-line employees in their respective branches. We don't know how long this will last, and management of resources will be vital in any company's success. But while there is still a demand for books and conditions prove safe for our employees, we will try our best to remain open in as many branches as we can."
She added: "This pandemic has also brought to light what our customers deem important in sustaining their lifestyles. We see that people seek out books for knowledge, entertainment and health, and we're happy to be able to provide these for people's physical, mental and emotional health."