Hornchurch shop forced to shut after council ruled it didn’t sell enough essential items

Best Sellers was forced to shut on Saturday (November 7). Picture: Robbie Wootton

Best Sellers was forced to shut on Saturday (November 7). Picture: Robbie Wootton - Credit: Robbie Wootton

A Hornchurch multi-retailer has been forced to shut after being told it didn’t have enough essential items to qualify as an essential store.

Essential items on offer. Picture: Robbie Wootton

Essential items on offer. Picture: Robbie Wootton - Credit: Robbie Wootton

Robbie Wootton, owner of family business Best Sellers in Station Lane, says it was visited by council officers on Saturday (November 7).

The store, which has operated for 22 years, sells seasonal goods, cleaning products, hardware, PPE, pet food and more.

Robbie called the ruling “harsh”.

He said: “We’ve always sold essential stuff, it’s not something we’ve just brought in. We checked the guidelines and we felt we were doing the right thing.”

Disinfectants on sale. Picture: Robbie Wootton

Disinfectants on sale. Picture: Robbie Wootton - Credit: Robbie Wootton

The shop has also insisted customers buy an essential item with every purchase, unlike in supermarkets.

He added: “When you go to a supermarket, you don’t have to buy essential things, you can pick stuff and put it down as you please. The guidelines are unclear and we’re losing a lot of money.”

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In the previous lockdown, the store chose to close – “we felt like we should” – and continued with a delivery service.

This time round, the shop has undergone many changes to be Covid-secure for the reopening in the summer and Robbie says vulnerable customers have shown their gratitude at being able to get their essentials locally and not having to traipse to crowded supermarkets.

PPE. Picture: Robbie Wootton

PPE. Picture: Robbie Wootton - Credit: Robbie Wootton

The shop also sells lots of season gifts and decorations and is kitted out for Christmas.

Robbie added: “We get a lot of people that come in here and like our displays, it lifts their spirits, mental health is after all really important during these times.”

The government guidelines surrounding what counts as essential shops stipulates “food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, hardware stores, building merchants and off-licences”.

A Havering Council spokesperson said: “Public protection officers have been visiting retail premises across the borough, giving advice on new government restrictions on retail premises which came into force on November 5.

“The legislation states that only businesses trading in essential goods are allowed to stay open to the public. The guidance states that if a business is selling a significant amount of essential retail goods, they may also continue to sell non-essential items. Businesses selling mostly non-essential items are still allowed to trade online, or via a click and collect service outside of their premises.”

Contact Best Sellers to place an order, or email: enquiries@bestsellers-online.co.uk.