Postal strikes adding pain for creative businesses in cost-of-living battle

Postal strikes are preventing independent businesses from getting items to customers in time for Chrstmas

INDEPENDENT businesses in Cardiff are having to adapt to the ongoing effects of the cost-of-living crisis just like everyone else.

The crisis has meant people have less money to spend on leisure activities and non-essential items and independent businesses have already felt the sales hit.  

But for the DIY-style creatives who hand-make their products and post them out to customers there is an added problem.

There have been six postal strikes so far this winter – three each in November and December – with another four to come before Christmas (on December 14, 15, 23 and 24).

Gemma Forde owns Cathays store Lark Design Make, sells handmade stock online and hosts craft workshops. 

The postal strikes in the lead-up to Christmas have forced Gemma to close her online shop early because she can’t guarantee customers will receieve their orders in time.  

“I had to close my Etsy shop because of the impacts of the delayed delivery of items,” she says.

“It was nothing to do with me. I dispatched everything within twenty-four hours and they are taking 10 days to send.”

Since the cost-of-living crisis, Gemma has also had to deal with order cancellations and rising stock prices.  

Gemma Forde, Lark Design Make

“There was definitely a decline in clients when there was talk of the cost-of-living crisis in the news,” she said.

“People are taking their social decisions a lot more seriously and staying in more. A lot of people have mentioned in conversation that they will see us in a few months, when they can afford to do a class again. That’s never really a conversation that has happened before.”

Rising bills have also meant that Gemma is having to reconsider the cost to clients of her classes.  

“Running a small class has quite an impact,” she said.

“I want the classes to be comfortable but the cost of running the heating is so much more than it was – it is going to be a very low-profit class if it’s a small number of people.

“Supplies that once cost around £2.50, now cost around £3.75. If you think about the many items you need to buy for a workshop, if they all go up by like 30/50 per cent then that does have an impact.

“I’m trying at the moment to keep the prices of workshops the same, but a huge part of the cost of a workshop is the materials. I am aware that if this carries on in the new year, I am going to have to put up the prices of the workshops, but this limits the people who can join them. It’s a catch 22 situation.”

Keira Evans, owner of the jewellery business Candy Goblins, sells her earrings online and in different shops in the city centre. She has also felt the effects of the postal strikes.  

Keira Evans runs jewellery business Candy Goblins

“Exporting items has become really difficult and the government’s not been helpful at all in telling businesses how to deal with that,” she said. 

Keira started the business in 2018 and has lost sales since the cost-of-living crisis began.

“It’s just difficult to afford things that aren’t essential now,” she says.

“It’s been difficult for me and my disabled partner because they rely on my income as well.

“The government isn’t doing enough to help everyone right now and it’s no wonder creative businesses are getting hit so hard by this. It’s worrying when I’m afraid to put the heating on due to the cost. My 3D printers rely on electricity so there is only so much I can do to reduce costs.” 

Zoe Windatt

Nail technician Zoe Windatt, owner of Nails by ZW, started her business this year in a bleak financial landscape.  

“It’s been a bit of a risk setting up a business during the cost-of-living crisis because everyone’s a bit more skint and you don’t know if people are going to want to spend money on non-essentials,” she said.

“Everything is getting more expensive to buy which means you obviously have to charge more, which I don’t want to do when people are already struggling for money.

“You have to balance making things affordable for people but also making enough money to actually live life and afford bills.”

Zoe is grateful for all of her customers but has noticed a drop in visits by some regulars.

“The cost-of-living crisis has made me more appreciative of the clients I do have. We are all in the same boat,” she said.

“I do get a lot of returning customers, I’ve had some people recently message me apologising for not coming as frequently as they would like to because of money.”