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Sue Edgar's comment: We have to remember cash is king

Jul 4, 2024 |

Hi all,
Where should I begin? There are so many things happening in our post office world.

At the end of this week, we will have a new government, if all the predictions are correct. To be honest, I am still sitting on the fence, and it is the first time I have been undecided on who to vote for as I’m not sure who will be best for us as business owners. We will all know by Friday.

Since Covid, the way people shop has been one of the biggest changes. Many people will now use cards or even their phone to pay for not only groceries but even a stamp.

The concept of a bustling high street has gone, with lots of out-of-town shopping. However, local councils want to bring people back to high streets and are offering several types of incentives to tempt traders back.

Lots of people no longer carry cash. They do not even think about it until their network loses connection. They then rush to an ATM or post office to get cash out. This is one of the reasons I believe cash is king and we must keep promoting that we are still here, unlike many banks.

Post offices let the public withdraw, deposit, or get a balance, and we are saving banks millions, so deserve a bigger piece of the pie. This is something the NFSP is working on with Post Office Ltd (PO).

The rolling out of Banking Hubs is positive, especially if you are the local postmaster who takes on the contract. We must support these going to the local postmaster because our biggest concern is they are given to another operator, or even an auto machine is placed near a post office.

Along with post offices, Banking Hubs keep services and also cash in the local area. That must be a good thing as people spend money wherever they collect it.

We need more advertising for our post office services, and this is where we all fall down. We can’t just blame it all on PO, we must get the message out there too and we can sometimes be found lacking here.

Look at East Barkwith postmaster David Ward. He is out there on TV, radio, and newspapers shouting loud and proud that he does banking to make sure all in his surrounding area know. He puts me to shame with all his advertising on services he can provide. 

I’ve also got to give another shout out to the team making the postmaster videos. They’ve all been really good. And, also, a big shout to our Comms Team for the podcasts they have been putting out. These have all been great ideas.

There is no doubt that we are all suffering with both retail and post office at the moment. We are all trying to think creatively about what products we can put into our shops to draw customers in. Summer is coming and so are holidays, so we need to be looking at our retail from a customer’s point of view. Obviously, there are currency and travel money cards which can be pushed by your PO. I saw that Metro Bank is going to start to charge for foreign transactions and for withdrawals abroad, so we need to build on this because other banks are likely to follow.

On our retail side, we need to make it look a bit brighter and summery. Move things around and do not forget to clean as you go. That makes a massive difference, even though we sometimes don’t realise.

Also, maybe look at a different wholesaler. Do they have a product you do not sell? Maybe give it a try. Talk to the manager and just ask what they think is selling well. Have a look around at local shops and what is lacking, ask customers if there is anything they would like to be able to buy but can’t.

These are just a few of my thoughts. But also go onto your local WhatsApp group and ask what is selling well in other postmasters’ stores. My retail is cards, gifts, and toys; etc.

But as I walked past the local fruit shop recently, they were getting a delivery of local strawberries. They looked fresh and really lush. I am going to see if I can get the local supplier to sell me some to give a try. Why not? We can eat them if they don’t sell.

I also want to say that I know there is a lot of negativity in the network and around the NFSP. I want to say that I can feel your frustration, and your anger after watching the Inquiry. I felt that too, but what I have to say is that was the old NFSP. We are a completely different organisation now. We now work together as a team and share thoughts and ideas to help members as much as possible.

We are holding meetings that involve other postmaster groups so that we can get feedback and different points of view. We know we are not perfect, but we are trying to rebuild and indeed build new relationships to make us stronger and as one to look after everyone’s investment.

Finally, thank you for reading my thoughts. If you know me you will understand I have gone over the number of words I’m allowed, I can talk for England so I hope I can be forgiven.

Kind regards,

Sue Edgar

Non-Executive Director North East