The Government, under its ‘Enjoy Summer Safely’ banner, has been urging shoppers to visit their local high street and support businesses during Shop Local Week as part of the pandemic recovery plan.
“From corner shops and florists, to newsagents, cafes and pubs, our high streets are at the heart of every community in every corner of the UK,” stated Business Secretary Alok Sharma at the start of this week as he officially launched the Shop Local campaign.
Adding his comments, Small Business Minister Paul Scully acknowledged that the last few months “have been incredibly hard for businesses across the country, which is why the government put in place an unprecedented package of measures to support them.”
Urging consumers to support their local shops this week, he added: “As small businesses get back on their feet and reopen with new safety measures in place, consumers can lend a hand by shopping local – supporting local companies and jobs.”
As Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday UK and founder of Small Business Britain pointed out: “Small businesses are the beating heart of communities and town centres up and down the country, and they will be at the centre of the recovery. These small firms – from the local greengrocer, to the neighbourhood gift shop – were there for the nation during lockdown and now they need our support to get back on their feet.”
The Government has cited eight reasons why consumers should support their local retailers…
- Help the high street and support the local economy
- Save jobs – and create even more
- Make the most of great deals
- It’s a safe way to shop
- Preserving the heart of the community
- The choice of products
- A better shopping experience
- Help the environment
With Knutsford, Stevenage and Knaresborough being among the towns to have got behind the campaign, with their respective town councils, high street groups and Chambers of Commerce promoting the initiative, PG Buzz spoke to independent card retailers in these localities to get their views…
Knutsford: Paul Carter, co-owner of Zo and Co, which has a shop in Knutsford as well as one in Didsbury, Cheadle and Marple
“The Shop Local campaign in Knutsford has been great, but not just this week. At the start of lockdown Bexy Boo designed a poster of the Knutsford high street encouraging us to work together throughout lockdown through online orders and home deliveries, which was a huge success for us as it has meant we are developing our new website.
Knutsford had a pre-existing communal spirit before lockdown with very loyal business and strong base of regular customers. Lockdown has increased this even further as our customers are empathising with us and they want to make sure they support our business to ensure we survive. Our customers have been visiting us more frequently to show their compassion even more!”
Stevenage: Jo Sorrell, owner of Cardies
“Yes, we have certainly had many of our customers commenting that they are preferring to shop local and feel safer in the smaller shops. I’m not sure that we have seen an upturn in sales due to this week’s government campaign, but the restaurants on our high street are definitely busier due to the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.
I’m sure the out of town shopping areas and largely commuter shopping areas must really be feeling left out at the moment, with the government encouraging people to shop local. However I think many people had already arrived at this way of thinking both during lockdown and shortly after without the government telling them that there are many benefits to shopping small and local.
We are also seeing more of our office worker and commuter customers who are still mostly working from home. It’s like they are rediscovering their local shops.”
Knaresborough: Rachael Barnes, co-owner of Dragonfly Cards & Gifts
“We are lucky that we have a very strong community here in Knaresborough and they have been supporting us since we reopened.
I’ve noticed are some A-boards reminding people to shop local, use the hand sanitising stations etc. These are very colourful and a good visual reminder of what we all should be doing.
I do feel for those retailers in larger towns and cities, as they must be finding things a lot harder. Many customers have said that they’re not travelling further afield, preferring to buy everything they can locally. Footfall is still down for us (by around 20% most days), but those that are coming in are spending more. We’ve seen a large increase in gifts in particular (helped in part by the sale of reusable masks).
We have always been keen to get involved in local initiatives, such as the current Bunny Hunt campaign, (an idea of Laura Dudley, owner of Painting Pots, a fab independent shop came up with about four years ago). I am part of Team Bunny, as we like to call ourselves! We host a bunny, provide a prize and sponsorship money towards the operational costs so all the money raised can go to charity. It’s traditionally been at Easter which obviously couldn’t happen this year, but we thought we’d run it over the summer instead to give families a cheap, socially distanced thing to do and get them into town and round the shops.”
Top: Some of the livery behind the Government’s Enjoy Summer Safely campaign.