Shop Local: Islington leather bag shop reports ‘brutal’ drop in takings

Christopher Moss at his shop, Bags of Moss. Picture: Bags of Moss

Christopher Moss at his shop, Bags of Moss. Picture: Bags of Moss - Credit: Bags of Moss

An Islington leather bag shop has seen takings drop by a third compared to this time last year.

Christopher Moss at his shop, Bags of Moss. Picture: Bags of Moss

Christopher Moss at his shop, Bags of Moss. Picture: Bags of Moss - Credit: Bags of Moss

Christoper Moss of leather bag shop Bags of Moss in Islington High Street will have to decide in the next six months if he calls it a day on the business he has run for the past 16 years.

“Of course it is detrimental,” he told the Gazette.

“Anyone who has run their own business will tell you it’s the last 10 to 15 per cent that makes up the profit. It has been brutal.”

Christopher had to furlough staff and at present it is cheaper to be closed at weekends than pay wages.

After bills, rent and wages, there is often nothing left at the end of each month to pay himself and the next six months will be crucial.

“We have no tourists, we have no out-of-towners, so we are almost completely reliant on our local base,” he said.

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“I sell leather bags, and because they are quality products, we don’t have repeat custom.

“If you are selling hardware or food then you’re doing great but the way the roulette has worked is certain products are non-Covid.

“But then if people still want shops like us on the high street they need to use us before we start rethinking our lives,” he warned.

“Once we go back to normal, if people want to have the independent shops that are struggling to sell a product that is currently not viable, they are going to have to use them now.

“The food shops will still be there. It is more nuanced than ‘shop on your high street’. It’s ‘shop on your high street for certain products’.

Christopher cannot remember any comparable hits to his income - even accounting for the economic crash of 2008.

After lockdown trade was “very slow”, but by September he was up to 40 to 50pc of his usual takings. But then the new wave of restrictions began.

“Not that I’m objecting to them,” he added. “But if no one is going to dinner or a wedding or to the office or travelling, why would they need a new leather bag?”

His message to customers is to go through a decision making flow chart when making purchases.

“First is thinking of the environment, and do I really need it? Secondly, can I get it on my high street? And if I can’t get it from an independent shop on the high street, the last question is do I need it enough to sanction international tax avoidance, delocalising the economy and defunding public services?

“I am trying not to worry about it because it is so unpredictable and we have no idea, but we are Brexiting in January so Lord only knows. Supply chains are struggling, and suppliers are afraid of making too much stock. There is anxiety right up the chain.

“I feel the argument against Brexit got very apocalyptic, but the pandemic has shown what a real apocalyptic economic crash really looks like. We are really seeing now what Mother Nature can do, and what we need is more robust economies.”

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