More than two-thirds of people who used a Fife business during the Covid-19 pandemic have not returned.
As many as 70% of the customers of Hutchison’s Fresh Fish have been shopping elsewhere since the easing of Covid-related restrictions.
And Paul Hutchison, who runs the Glenrothes business, said customers’ decisions to shop in supermarkets rather than supporting local businesses “gets on my nerves”.
He said the shop was “manic” during the pandemic, with more people cooking at home and increased attention to diet.
He still has a group of regular customers, but he thinks around 70% of those who visited during the pandemic have not returned.
Mr Hutchison said: “A lot of people forget about you pretty quickly.
“We would never have been able to open the shop if it wasn’t for those Covid customers, but you’d like to think you’d retain a high percentage of them.
“They’ve just forgotten about us.
“They’ve gone back to shopping at the supermarkets, even though the product isn’t as good.
“The further we get away from Covid we’ve probably dropped off at least 70% – it’s huge numbers.
“It really gets on my nerves.”
Mr Hutchison, who opened the Fife fishmonger’s in April 2021, said the business was continuing to perform well thanks to regulars.
However, he urged people to support local businesses.
“I could list 100 customers who had a delivery every week during Covid, and what’s happened?
“We’re almost back to normal and we never hear from these people.
“I think these people saw the difference in the quality, but they’ve just disappeared again. Local businesses need it more.
“We’re still busy and we’re getting by, but we’d love to have these folk coming back.
“I’m trying to drop the prices to pull more people in.”
Fife fishmonger keeping prices low
Mr Hutchison said he’s trying to keep prices as low as he can, but that is mitigated by the firm’s rise in operating costs.
The Glenrothes shop, located in Cadham Shopping Centre, has seen its electricity bill in recent months, and Mr Hutchison expects that to increase further.
He hopes to help customers who are also “feeling the pinch”, he added.
“I’m trying to support people as much as possible,” he said.
“For me to keep my prices low, I need people to support me more often.
“I need to pull in more customers and the way of doing that is offering the same quality products and trying to drop the price.
“Getting them through the doors is the important thing because our quality and service is top notch.
“They’ll come back and they’ll tell somebody else about us. That’s what I’m trying to achieve at the moment.”
He issued an appeal on social media in an attempt to reel in his lost customers.