Our regular columnist, secondary school student Daisy Dewsnap, outlines some ways in which we - as a community - can come together to help independent shops and businesses in these tough times.
Lockdown has completely changed lots of us and life as we knew it before March last year is now a distant memory.
But this also means that right now small businesses need our support more than ever before.
Within our borough, there are many shops and businesses that are run independently by individuals who are so passionate about what they do and for these people, lockdown has really affected the way in which they work and operate their shops.
It is so important that we contribute our best efforts to supporting them during these difficult, unprecedented times.
For this article, I will be outlining some ways in which we, as a community, can come together to help them!
One way in which you can support these small, local businesses is by very simply buying products from them.
Next time you are wanting to buy a certain product from a large high street retailer, try to see if you can find an alternative from a smaller, more local shop instead.
By buying from one of these, you’re not only contributing to creating a larger sense of community, but you’re also providing more access to product diversity.
Etsy is a wonderful online marketplace platform which enables you connect with both buyers and sellers. Primarily it is used for the distribution of handmade goods, art, crafts and vintage items, but you will be able to find almost any product you’re looking for on there while supporting an individual and probably making their day by ordering from them!
Something else that I love to do once I have completed the first step and purchased some items from these individually owned businesses is leave a positive review.
You are then encouraging other people to buy from them, boosting their business and influencing consumer decisions; while also strengthening and reinforcing their credibility as a company.
Statistics actually say that positive reviews make 73 per cent of consumers trust a local business more so you are helping out a lot by leaving this review.
A third thing which I think is wonderful and one of my favourite parts about buying from these businesses is when you send them a message letting them know how much you love the product you’ve received.
This message will only take you five to ten minutes to write and send, but will make them so happy and will have a positive impact on their whole day.
As well as reminding them how much buyers appreciate what they do, it will also motivate and encourage them to carry on and invest more time into the shop!
If you’re not able to buy from them just yet, you could even do something as simple as visiting their website or social media accounts.
By engaging with their posts and exploring their web page, you are automatically causing an increase in traffic here and boosting them so that their page is able to reach out to more people in the community.
This will have a domino effect onto many things as they will be exposed to a broader audience, and therefore a wider range of potential buyers.
The final thing that you can do is spread the word. Tell your friends and family about their business and recommend them to everyone you know.
People are much more likely to buy from somewhere if a friend/relative has had a positive experience there and can give first-hand experience. Like their social media, share their posts, send them to people you know! All of these things are completely free but will mean such a lot to the person running the business.
I hope this article has given you a few ideas of how we can all be supportive of small businesses during this lockdown period.
Coming together and helping one another will have such a big impact on our community and will really benefit all of us in the long run!
Shoppers at Ashton Market on 20 March 2020 - just before the first national lockdown was imposed. Photo: Nigel Wood.