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March 17, 2021updated 22 Mar 2021 11:56am

UK government urges shoppers to help small businesses

By Mohamed Dabo

Her Majesty’s Government has appealed to shoppers across the UK to do their bit to help local businesses rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic. Mohamed Dabo reports

The Shop Local campaign is part of the government’s effort to encourage people to get back to the way of life they have missed, while following safety guidelines.

“From popping into a local family-run bakery for a loaf of bread, or buying a quirky gift from an independent shop, by shopping locally people can help local business owners and local communities get back up and running,” the government said in a release.

The campaign gives 8 reasons why customers should visit the high street during the pandemic:

  1. Help the high street and support the local economy

Shopping at local businesses pumps money into the local economy, and by spending money in their local shop, restaurant, café or pub, shoppers can do their bit to aid our national recovery across the country.

  1. Save jobs – and create even more

Supporting our high streets creates jobs in local communities, often helping young and disadvantaged people find employment.

This helps to grow the number of jobs in our local areas and makes for a better place to live and work, which then creates a healthy economy for the community.

  1. Great deals

People might be surprised to see just how competitive the prices are in your local shops. Independent retailers often reward regular customers, while others often provide great deals that can’t be found in major outlets – meaning people save money as they spend.

Consumers can also save money eating out – the Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme is being provided by the government, saving diners up to £10 per head on eat-in meals on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in one of the 73,000 participating businesses.

  1. A safe way to shop

Businesses across the country have been following government guidance and implementing a range of measures to ensure people are safe while they shop, such as customer limits inside the store, plastic partitions at tills and hand sanitizing stations.

  1. Preserving the heart of the community

A thriving high street is key to boosting the potential of a village or town where people can socialise as well as shop.

Local businesses also generate revenue to support council services such as libraries, parks and roads that benefit communities across the UK.

  1. Spoilt for choice

Small and local businesses often stock items which are made locally and aren’t available elsewhere else, providing a great range of choice and unique products that bring much-needed originality and variety into communities – including rare finds and items that aren’t mass produced.

  1. A better shopping experience

Small businesses are often run by people who live nearby. As the UK continues to recover from the pandemic, the experience of buying locally from a friendly face offers a dose of normality that many people may have missed.

  1. Help the environment

Local shops often source their goods locally, helping to reduce their carbon footprint.

When shopping local, people are also more likely to walk or cycle to get there – doing their bit to reduce air pollution, reduce traffic and improve the quality of the nation’s high streets.

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “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.

“Business owners have done an incredible job so far to welcome shoppers back safely, and I hope people across the country will do their bit this week to help our high streets bounce back to protect jobs and support local communities.”

Small Business Minister, Paul Scully, said: “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.

“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.”

Michelle Ovens, Director of Small Business Saturday UK and Founder of Small Business Britain, said: “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 ship – were there for the nation during lockdown and now they need our support to get back on their feet.”

As the worldwide pandemic continues to decimate small businesses across the globe, the Shop Local idea has become a global phenomenon.

In some places, it’s a grassroot movement, in other places it’s a government- or business-driven initiative. Some big businesses—including Visa—have joined the global crusade.

Visa’s ‘Where You Shop Matters’ gathers speed in Europe

More than 100 Visa partners across Europe have joined the Where You Shop Matters. The initiative is designed to help small business owners build digital capabilities and continue serving their communities.

More than two million small firms across Europe have received support since the launch of the programme in summer 2020.

The announcement marks a major milestone in Visa’s commitment to help eight million small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) in Europe – and 50 million globally – to get online, adapt and future proof their business.

Across Europe, Covid-19 continues to have a devastating impact on small businesses.

Dealing with the ravages of Covid

Research conducted by Visa revealed that 65% of small businesses are concerned about the future of their business.

With many having to operate under restrictions and lockdowns, small businesses are increasingly moving their operations online and embracing digital payments.

Visa data shows that over 10 countries in Europe have seen a 20% increase in online sales and eight in ten transactions are now contactless.

Since announcing its commitment to support eight million small businesses across Europe in their digital transformation journey, Visa has joined forces with banks, governments, commerce platforms and technology partners to digitally enable small businesses.

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