Lockdown and the Coronavirus pandemic have affected everyone’s lives in a variety of different ways, but small business owners have been hit especially hard during this period. With many struggling, but eagerly trying to make the best of a bad situation, it is more important than ever to support them.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help out, even from the comfort of your home. We’ve compiled a guide of 7 great ways to help support small businesses during lockdown and beyond.
Why it’s important to support small businesses
Shopping at local, independent stores has many benefits and it often works like a chain reaction: by purchasing from local shops, you’re helping those businesses grow, sell more goods from the area and employ members of the local community, which keeps money circulating around your neighbourhood.
Not to mention, local businesses pay taxes that are poured straight back into the community, so just by making a seemingly small purchasing decision, you are actually investing into the local community and having a directly beneficial impact...
In addition to having economic and social benefits, shopping small and local is often more sustainable. Products generally have smaller circuits, meaning that they will have travelled less and accrued fewer air miles. By favouring local independent businesses that are trading in the right way, no matter what industry they operate in, you will minimise your impact and help them spread their message - a win-win!
1. Shop local
It’s no secret that covid-19 has started to revitalise the local high street. Research conducted by YouGov shows that “64% of people want to support local businesses and buy local products” - but with lockdown forcing some stores to close and social distancing becoming difficult in smaller shops, it’s easier to fall back on bigger chains.
Locally is a great alternative to Amazon but for smaller, local, independent retailers. You can also check out the Small Businesses Saturday platform to find the ways you can get involved in supporting small businesses in your area. Scroll down to find our favourite independent businesses to shop small this winter!
2. Leave a good review
Statistics show that the majority of shoppers use reviews to determine what products to buy and which services to purchase, and on average, read 7 reviews before trusting a business. Proving that giving a good rating or review on Google or social media is an easy way to raise the profile of a brand and persuade new customers to give them a go!
3. Buy a gift card
If you want to help a business but don’t need their product or service immediately, buying a gift card is a great way to support them and show loyalty. It will help them navigate this uncertain and difficult period, aiding footfall post covid-19, whilst lending a helping hand now. Not to mention you can, of course, buy them for friends or family for upcoming birthdays or the festive season!
4. Try pick up and delivery services
If your favourite local store has adapted to the current situation by offering a home delivery service, then there’s no reason for you to miss out! For example, having a weekly take-out treat of your favourite meal from a restaurant or cafe helps a lot - the hospitality industry has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. Most shops now offer “click & collect” or delivery services, from independent bookstores such as Daunt Bookshop for example (lockdown is the perfect time to catch up on some reading!) to veggie delivery boxes (if you have more free time, why not try mastering your cooking skills?).
5. Try to reschedule instead of cancelling, where possible
If you have made a booking, instead of cancelling, look to reschedule when restrictions have been lifted. This is a great way of keeping the business going, whilst giving you something to look forward to when this is all over!
6. Use online services
Many new online services have sprung up over lockdown and some of your original favourite spots might have moved online already - just take a look at their website or social media to find out. Online work-out and cooking classes have really taken off in the past year and we can see why: easy to do from the comfort of your own home and a great way to try something you wouldn’t have done otherwise.
7. Spread the word
It’s worth keeping in mind that financial support is not the only way to help: simply telling a friend about a brand or following/ sharing/ liking a company’s social media helps much more than you would think. Not only does it help raise awareness, but it is completely free to do and often persuades new customers to trust a brand. Here at BLANC, we greatly value word-of-mouth recommendations and we love when our happy customers spread the word to their friends, so for every person you refer, you get £10 free credit and so do they!
Bonus for those of you who need some inspiration to shop small this winter! Here are 5 great independent businesses to support over lockdown and beyond…
A concept store, consisting of homeware, fashion and lifestyle products - “curated from independent creators with stories to tell”. They usually have a physical store, but have gone online for now - check them out for a great edit of lifestyle and fashion products.
This planet-conscious and plastic-free lifestyle store only features and distributes brands who produce their products in the UK. Their Mayfair shop is currently closed but you can shop their curated collections online - ideal to find planet-friendly gift sets for your loved ones!
Perfectly located in Chiswick and Greenwich, they serve coffee out of the iconic red London phone boxes and are open during lockdown. Ideal for a coffee and autumnal walk to lift the spirits - we are already planning to visit over the weekend! If you want to experience it, but don’t live nearby, they also sell their speciality Colombian coffee online.
This cookery school nestled in Notting Hill usually offers in-person cookery classes and catering but during lockdown, you can live stream a cooking class and order the accompanying ingredients which get delivered straight to your doorstep. If you want to source your own ingredients, they also offer an ‘instructions only’ option.
We know it’s tempting to swiftly order a book from Amazon, but there are an abundance of beautiful bookstores in London, offering collection and delivery services who could do with some support. John Sando Book Store has been independently owned since 1967! Just off the Kings Road, in South-West London, it is everything you imagine a quintessentially British bookstore to be - we can’t wait to visit in person, when we can.