Retailing is going through a revolution that is imposing huge strains on all participants including traders at QVM. The stresses of running a small business are significant. We all knew that before we made the brave step into this unpredictable world of retailing but even the hardest of us probably didn't foresee the turmoil that currently exists. Throw in a market renewal and maybe we need to think about some safeguards for at-risk traders.
And, yes, I am talking about emotional strain brought on by financial hardship and unpredictability. These are stresses that every trader can feel, but are probably more obvious for traders with young families, and a mortgage. We didn't enter retailing with a blindfold, or at least we shouldn't have. This is a business. It has elements of a gamble and the risk/reward balance is well known. But sometimes you get circumstances that go beyond the expected and maybe we need to set up a safety net of some sort right now.
The recent experience with Dairy Farmers draws some parallels. Dairy Farmers are in an industry that needs to adjust to change and it can be argued that adjusting hasn't been done soon enough. However the recent price reductions in wholesale milk and the ridiculous attempt at back dating those price reductions were a step too far. Governments and the community are coming to grips with the problem and it would appear that Dairy Farmers are starting to get some consideration for their plight.
Dairy Farmers have openly talked about their woes. Emotional and financial hardships are being clearly and publicly exhibited . But are we seeing that sort of openess at QVM? Traders will talk to their neighbours about the general state of business but what about the deeper discussions? Do we really expect traders to open up to Market Officers or officials of our Property Department if they are in severe financial difficulty or are just not coping with the stress and anxiety. And if they don't open up there, where do they go?
Clearly we need a strategy – talking is really good and hopefully every trader has someone they can confide in either within the trader body or their own family or community. But we probably need more than that, and this is just the start of a bigger discussion.
by Greg Smith - QVMAC Trader Representative.