– from our General Manager on the state of the Co-op’s finances –
An email from a longtime owner and friend prompted me to offer an update on where our Co-op currently stands financially as we enter into another month under the spectre of this global pandemic. There is much to be proud of, as our community and our co-op dramatically and decisively shifted to a new reality. There are still many unknowns which makes predicting how the local economy will bounce back post COVID-19 daunting, but we are committed to facing this challenge head-on and doing what is necessary to ensure that the Belfast Co-op remains a cornerstone in the downtown for the next 40 years.
A few areas of note:
- Customer counts have dropped significantly in the past six weeks, plateauing at around a third of what they were during the same period last year.
- Meanwhile, basket size (average transaction amount) has tripled during the same period. Included in that increase in basket size is transactions through our Shop for Me program, which has contributed over $150,000 in revenues in the past five weeks and currently averages a basket size in excess of $115.
- Cash is going to be our biggest concern if summer traffic is not significant enough to maintain our budgeted revenues. The Co-op was able to secure a Payroll Protection Program loan from the Small Business Administration to cover payroll expenses for eight weeks. As of the end of March our year to date revenues were up 5.6% from budget and up 9.4% from last year. In April we have been able to sustain 4.5% growth over last year even with limited hours and being closed on Sundays, which is remarkable. Our year to date net income was up over $100,000 from last year going into this crisis and we have maintained that throughout.
- In this uncertain time, our workers are what is keeping this cooperative from sinking. Their dedication to ensuring that the needs of our neighbors are met in the face of mounting fear and anxiety is beyond commendable. To that end and as a small show of appreciation, through the end of June, the Co-op has elected to pay 100% of the base premiums for any workers that are enrolled in our health insurance plan, increased our worker discount, added 40 hours of PTO to every full-time worker and 20 hours to every part-time worker, and created a pool of personal time that workers can draw from were they to exhaust all other options. We have also established an Employee Appreciation Fund that customers can contribute to at the register or through the Shop for Me program that has raised over $1800 to date which will be distributed to workers. When all of this is behind us, please remember that it was the service workers that made sure that there was food on your table and showed up every day to provide for our community.
Know that the Board and I are watching the situation closely and working with our peers and colleagues in the state and nationally to make the best decisions possible with the current information. These are trying times. Thank you all for your continued patronage and overwhelming support of your local co-op. Together we will get through this and rise stronger than ever.
Belfast Co-op General Manager