Shoppers urged to support local stores as lockdown eases

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Date: 16 June 2020

Portrait of a handsome young African entrepreneur smiling and standing with his arms crossed in front of his trendy cafe

The Federation of Small Businesses is calling on the public to support small retailers as they begin to reopen up after lockdown.

As thousands of small retail businesses in England reopen their doors for the first time since March, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is urging people to "shop small" and support small firms.

Mike Cherry, FSB national chair, said "it has never been more important to support small firms, shop local and support the nation's self-employed."

FSB data shows that:

  • 35% of all small businesses closed their doors during lockdown;
  • 60% of all retailers were closed during the lockdown.

More than half of small retailers (60%) polled said it would cost up to £1,000 to comply with government guidance on working safely; 28% said it would cost between £1,000 and £10,000 to comply.

Of those retailers that were closed throughout lockdown, 20% say they do not believe they can reopen in a way that is compliant with government advice on working safely, including social distancing.

"The past few months have been and remain some of the toughest periods of trading that the economy has faced in recent history," said Mike Cherry.

"Right across every single village, high street, town centre and city shopping centre, small businesses have faced an unprecedented period of turbulence the likes none have seen before. That is why today is a crucial landmark in getting back to business, bringing the retail economy back on track as well as crucially safeguarding the livelihoods of millions of employees."

However, he warned that reopening won't happen overnight. "For many this will be a slow and gradual easing back into business. Not every small firm will find it financially viable to open, while others will not be able to cope with full customer demand on day one with social distancing measures still in place, and their desire to protect their staff, suppliers and customers. Some shops are deliberately staggering opening times among themselves to help manage the high street, and manage deliveries.

"The raft of financial packages from the government has enabled thousands of businesses to stay afloat, but this of course cannot last forever, and we need small businesses to be back and trading, so they can get back on their feet. That's why it's vital that the public now do all they can to support small firms as they start to reopen."

"Shoppers can support small firms in many ways," Cherry said. As well as visiting local stores once they reopen, shoppers can continue to support local businesses that are selling online as well as offering support on social media and review sites.

For those going into the bricks and mortar stores, "patience from the public is needed," said Mike Cherry. "There may be queues in place, limits on the number of shoppers in a single building and other measures all designed to protect staff as well as customers. So I'd urge everyone to show patience and consideration especially during the next couple of weeks."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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