Indie push to keep USO

Creative Cove owner in double BBC Wales appearance over fears of Royal Mail delivery cuts

Indie retailer Sandra Jervis has been busy being interviewed by BBC Wales for the second time in two days about the possible impact of Ofcom’s suggested reductions in the postal service.

And the owner of Creative Cove in Lampeter has even made a double appearance on the broadcaster’s news website today, 15 February – as her picture heads up the English version while a Royal Mail worker graces the Welsh language article in which Sandra is featured.

Above: Welsh speaker Sandra heads up the English version of the article on the BBC Wales website
Above: Welsh speaker Sandra heads up the English version of the article on the BBC Wales website (left)

In the latest push to persuade Ofcom and Royal Mail to keep the current six-day-a-week letter delivery – which is supported by the government and prime minister Rishi Sunak – Sandra said any cuts would mean “businesses that rely on it, like mine, will be suffering permanently,” and she worries customers will lose faith in the postal service and her greeting card sales will suffer.

Having been recorded for the BBC Wales interview yesterday, the footage made today’s news broadcasts and has also become an online story, and it was an early start for Sandra this morning for the BBC Radio Wales news programme and her 7.15am live appearance.

“I was approached last week to offer my thoughts on Ofcom’s proposals to drop down to a three-day delivery service,” she told PB Buzz, “and I’m always ready to give my opinion!”

In a six-minute radio segment, the presenter kicked off by asking how important the Royal Mail is to Creative Cove, and Sandra responded: “It’s incredibly important. We don’t sell things that we put in the post directly but we sell cards, and most of those will end up in the post. So a major part of my stock is sold with the intention of putting them in the post on a daily basis.”

Above & top: Cards are the biggest sellers at Sandra’s Creative Cove store (Image: BBC Wales)
Above & top: Cards are the biggest sellers at Sandra’s Creative Cove store (Image: BBC Wales)

Explaining that cards are the biggest part of her shop, Sandra said sales had been in decline until the first Covid lockdown when “we saw this wonderful uplift, which wasn’t showing any sign of going anywhere until the postal strikes in 2022”.

With people not bothering to send Christmas cards because they wouldn’t arrive until January, Sandra said she lost around £3,000 worth of business in the lead-up to the festive season and added: “After the strikes, I still sell cards, however, it hasn’t gone back to where it was. A lot of people just got out of that habit of sending a card.

“At the end of the day Royal Mail, like myself, are a business, they need to make it profitable and functional for themselves – but it can’t be at the cost of all the other businesses around them, that rely on them for their economies. It does affect other businesses, they can’t just make a decision and not take into account what happens to other people.”

The indie said if the worst happens and the universal service obligation is altered to fewer deliveries, she would use her social media pages to remind people to “think more in advance about when they’re sending their cards”.

Above: Royal Mail deliveries are crucial to many businesses and keeping people connected
Above: Royal Mail deliveries are crucial to many businesses and keeping people connected

“A lot of people they pick up a card the day before they need to send it – life is busy. You forget ‘oh my goodness, it’s somebody’s birthday tomorrow I need to get that thing in the post’! It will be about trying to get people to think ahead.”

In the online article, Ben Cottam of the FSB in Wales told the BBC: “It’s that reliability that’s crucial for business operations, crucial for us as customers. We are very alarmed at the prospect of Royal Mail reducing its service.”

He said the USO means Royal Mail “picks up the heavy lifting” outside urban areas, where commercial operators sometimes struggle to provide an alternative service.

“Rural businesses rely very heavily on the reliability of a Royal Mail six-day-a-week service. When we look at the options for consultation, we need that to be borne in mind,” he added. “Some of our more rural areas may well be disproportionately impacted by any reduction in service.”

PG Buzz’s articles on the Ofcom suggestions and reactions can be found through the links below:

Ofcom says USO reform necessary

GCA battles hard to save Saturday deliveries

Ofcom under more pressure over RM reforms

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