We must support our local independent shops post the pandemic or at least post easing of the pandemic.
On the 23rd of March, Boris Johnson ordered all businesses to close the shop doors, for the foreseeable future, leaving many business owners and their employees at risk.
The rules and regulations for social distancing and self isolation in the UK has threatened to devastate local businesses .
The U.K. Chancellor unveiled £330 billion of support for small and large businesses in the form of grants, tax breaks and business loans. It is also said that all businesses do not have to pay business rates for a year.
However, we can also help. In the first instance, supporting your local business is often good for the environment, as it has a smaller carbon footprint. You can help your communities, by supporting your local businesses, whether they are bookshops, music venues, fashion boutiques or coffee houses by:
- Checking to see whether your local shop offers online shopping.
For instance there are now pubs supplying beers to your front door and bookshops offering contact free delivery.
- Going to your local grocers and picking up those things that you would normally pick up from your larger supermarkets.
- Buying gift cards.
Buying gift cards from local businesses and saving it to use in the future, is an immediate way to put cash back into your favourite shop, Salon, theatre, or restaurant, which will reduce the need to interact, provide packing, shipping and delivery service. This will demonstrate your customer loyalty.
- Order takeaway food and drinks.
Help to support your local cafés, bars and restaurants, by occasionally ordering a takeaway. A lot of independently owned food and drink businesses, provide delivery via Deliveroo or Uber eats. But if you can order directly, then do so. Pay by card online, and get contact free delivery, where the delivery person leaves the food on your doorstep.
- Tipping more than usual over the phone or online, and if you can afford it, order generously.
- Leaving good reviews.
Follow your local business on social media, and leave good reviews via Twitter, TripAdvisor, Instagram, directly through email, or encouragement on the telephone.
- Avoiding refunds, and postponing instead of cancelling.
See what other options there are. For example, theatre venues and music concerts are asking customers to put their ticket price to a different event at a later date. Alternatively, if the local business cannot provide a postponement option, then you could consider offering the price of the ticket as a donation. If you have planned a wedding, and you have postponed it, then consider postponing the booking with the local photographer and florist instead of cancelling it.
- Taking part on any online classes.
I now do much of my loved yoga classes online, so too can you do dance classes, singing or educational classes online. A lot of businesses are streaming sessions online, and therefore those who are social distancing or self isolating, can join in from home.
I used to love shopping or even window shopping. Just for the hell of it! Walking up and down on opposite sides of Oxford Street ,Regent Street, and Covent Garden. Walking on the curve or into the streets, priding myself on skilfully dodging the crowds. Feeling the adrenaline as thousands of people go up and down escalators in busy Bond Street. Keenly eyeing the clothes and shoes. Shop window displays cleverly and creatively designed to draw you in in droves. But gone are those days. Now since lockdown, I no longer see the desire to shop in the way that the new shopping experience requires. Having to form an orderly line outside shops, standing at least 2 metres apart to avoid human contact in fear of illness or death. No fun! Having to hide behind a mask. Unable to see anyone, smiling and hardly able to hear what people have to say behind face masks. No fun at all!
I certainly feel differently about shopping. My previous shopping experience is no longer an option. Shopping has become mundane. The new normal shopping experience is a quotidian event. Therefore why not buy (if you must) from your local shop? They desperately need your help.
The lockdown has made me appreciate the small, calm, intimate personal grocer. The grocer who recognises you and checks that you have your usual much loved cheese, or avocados. Something that your superstore could never offer.