"I'm fearful": Leeds centre coffee shop owner worries for future as takings down 50% from pre-pandemic
The owner of a Leeds city centre coffee shop said he is fearful for the future of his business - after revealing trade has dropped by 50% on weekdays since before the Covid pandemic.
James Greenhalgh, 30, is the owner of Flamingos Coffee House in the Central Arcade.
Speaking to the YEP, James said he was "genuinely fearful" about losing his business as low footfall causes a huge impact to his profits.
James said takings at the shop had dropped by at least half during weekdays since before the Covid pandemic.
A combination of office staff not returning in droves to the city centre and a reduction in the number of commuters has had a devastating effect on the shop.
James told how the figures have made him "nervous" for the future and questioning if he can carry on further.
He said: "Honestly I am genuinely fearful about losing my business.
"I have never felt more anxious.
"Basically for us, we are an LGBT+ safe space independent, late night coffee shop.
"We rely on busy weekdays due to office folks to mean we can stay open late nights and be open for community and LGBT+ groups in our area to use our venue as a free space to meet.
"With the office folks not returning very quickly, if at all, the whole business model may not be viable."
James said that once business rates go back up and the VAT holiday for hospitality ends, his shop is "in real trouble".
He added: "I am genuinely fearful for our business model.
"Weekdays we are seeing between a 40-55% drop in usual income, versus a small increase in weekend trade, based on the first week or so of opening.
"It makes me nervous
"It also means that I will have to devote more of my personal time to work in the shop, as I won’t be able to afford to pay staff.
"This is really hard on my own personal work and life balance and is very tiring."
James is unsure how he will be able to continue to operate in the current climate.
He said: "I guess I’ll have to just wait and see and on balance work out if my model is sustainable, as my lease comes to an end in 12 months or so."
James' story is echoed by Farsley business owner Dawn Farr, 50, who runs Apparel clothing on the town street.
She told the YEP the "usual bustle" of the high street "just isn't there".
Dawn said: "It seems to be very quiet in general.
"There are less people moving around.
"I’ve spoken to other local business owners who are feeling it too.
"It is a concern for us all.
"I’m working hard behind the scenes organising events which will hopefully make up for the loss of revenue due to a drop in footfall.
"At the end of the day, the rent still has to be paid."
However, Dawn is trying to remain positive in the circumstances.
She added: "Given the bad weather, it may still be early for shopping for summer clothing.
"Let’s hope we see people getting back to supporting local again very soon."