Portsmouth's Penelope Ann Schoolwear reports flurry of orders before schools reopen
A SCHOOL uniform firm has seen a lift in trade with scores of orders placed since the announced roadmap out of lockdown.
All pupils in England can return to school from March 8, with secondary schools staggering their return over a week to allow for Covid testing.
The announcement has brought a welcome boost of sales at Penelope Ann Schoolwear, which has served parents and pupils across Portsmouth for 40 years – but has come ‘close to the edge’ of going under during the last 12 months.
Founder Penny Bird said: ‘We have had about 60 or 70 orders since the announcement two weeks ago.
‘I think some parents are panicking.
‘I think we will be busier next week when they realise their old clothes don’t fit so well.
‘We have been busy, but business has definitely been down.’
Unable to open her fitting rooms at the shop in Tangier Road, Baffins, Penny has tried to be flexible and exchange items if needed when they are collected, but the business owner says she has faced ‘a massive disadvantage’ competing with supermarkets open for in-person browsing.
She said: ‘I would say if the schools can open, surely we’re an essential service. How will people get a school uniform without places like us?
‘They can buy it online, but they need to try it on – not everyone is an IT whizz when it comes to shopping online.’
The firm is operating a delivery service to eight drop-off points across the city, as well as a collection service, which has seen more than 60 paid-for orders remain uncollected for months.
Penny said: ‘We will keep them safe until people can come pick them up or contact us.’
With a stressful year that has thrown the usual school calendar into disarray, parent’s have been keen shown their appreciation for Penny’s support.
She said: ‘People are really grateful that we are here. We have had boxes of chocolates and flowers delivered.
‘We’ll do what we can to help.’