AN INDEPENDENT DIY store in Christchurch has said that changing shopping habits and resident’s compliance with the current lockdown rules has led to a “sporadic” return to business this year.

Having recorded high sales during the first national lockdown in April last year, Castles Home Hardware have said that “there is a different feel about this lockdown”, as the majority of resident continue to isolate in their homes amidst rising coronavirus cases locally.

This comes as the owner of B&Q and Screwfix Kingfisher reveal a continued rise in sales in the 10 weeks to January 9, rising 16.9 per cent – supported by online growth of more than 150 per cent compared with the same period a year ago.

Nicky Watson, company secretary at Castles Home Hardware and partner to owner Gary Adams, said: “We have found that it has been sporadic; we feel it is very different to the first lockdown.

“Back in April it was a better time of year and the garden centres weren’t open, so we were selling so much soil and compost which traditionally we never really sold much of. We had orders pouring in.

“Also, a lot of people have actually now done the DIY jobs they were planning on doing in the previous two lockdowns.”

Although the small hardware store profited from an increase in sales in the second quarter of last year, they were also hit by a reduced footfall as extended roadworks outside of their shop on Bargates made it difficult for residents and delivery drivers to get to the store.

Extensive maintenance work by SSEN and CityFibre ensured that the road was closed for almost two months until the end of October impacted many businesses along the Christchurch road.

Mrs Watson added: “The weather was great during the first lockdown so people who weren’t working or were furloughed could actually get around to doing painting jobs and leave their doors open

“Now there is very different feel, the general public are very jaded by it and actually most people are following the rules and staying at home

“I think a lot of people aren’t going out now and a lot of people are complying to the rules

In response to this, Castles Home Hardware have begun hosting a delivery service which they say has proven “very popular” with those isolating in their homes.

The store will charge free delivery within the Christchurch area for orders over £25.

Castles Home Hardware, which is only allowing four customers in at a time, has cracked down on its in Covid-19 rules, saying that members of the public who aren’t able to wear a facemask must wear a face shield or will not be allowed to enter the building.

“Our average spend for customers has increased as people are making the most of visiting the store and buying more when they come here but our shortfall has dropped significantly, said Nicky Watson.

“We have had to crack down on our safety measures and say to people who can’t wear a mask to wear a face shielding or they won’t be able to come into our store.

“We can’t allow customers without any sort of face protection as we need to keep our staff safe.”

Castles Home Hardware continues to remain open as an essential shop, from 8.30am to 5.30pm from Mondays to Saturdays, with reduced working hours on Sunday from 10am to 4pm.