After months of being stuck at home, we’re finally able to get back out into our high streets and communities again – great news for us and even better news for struggling local retailers and traders.
But these businesses aren’t out of the woods just yet. It’s been a gruelling time, and they will need our support in the months ahead if they’re to return to profitability and rebuild post-lockdown.
So what exactly can we all do to help? Well, here are a few suggestions.
1. Shop local
First up, just get out there and start spending! Try out the local florist or the wine shop on the corner of the high street, rather than placing another online order with a nationwide supplier. You might even find that some of these local shops now offer deliveries themselves within a certain radius. Or it could be a chance to remind yourself of the joys and pleasures of in-person browsing!
2. Buy direct
Online listings sites and marketplaces are great for ‘discovery’ – i.e. when you broadly know what you’re looking for, but don’t know who or where to buy it from. But if you already know which local business you want to use, always try and go through their own website or online store. Whether you’re ordering takeaway from a nearby restaurant or booking an appointment with a plumber, going direct means the business will get more of your fee than they would via a third-party website.
3. Take the plunge!
If you’ve been delaying decorating, repairs or other household projects, now is the perfect time to reach out to the local trade and get your tasks booked in. You may even need a local handyperson to come and remedy the work you’ve attempted to do yourself during the lockdown.
4. Get gifting
Many local retailers offer gift cards and other shareable promotions. It’s a good way for them to make money and a great way to introduce them to new customers. So if you have any friends or family with a birthday on the horizon, purchasing a gift card might help out a local business even more than buying a gift.
5. Pay promptly
Self-employed professionals and small businesses often struggle with tight cash flow and late payments. So if you’ve recently enlisted the services of a local professional to power wash your patio or install a new fence panel, don’t let their invoice sit unpaid in a drawer. These tireless individuals are forever dashing around the community from job to job – they don’t have time to chase up missed payments.
6. Leave reviews
If a local business has served you well, let them know about it, and let others know about it too. One of the best ways to do this is via a positive review. Some companies will let you do this on their website, or you can leave reviews on Google, Amazon and other marketplaces. There are also dedicated review websites like TrustPilot, or the community-oriented NextDoor. You don’t need to write an essay; just shout out your great experience.
7. Support them on social
Not everyone has loads of spare cash lying around right now, so you can still support local businesses for free by giving them a shout out on social media. Share their posts, tag friends you think might be interested, and join in the business’s social conversations, as it will help them get visibility in your friends’ social feeds. And none of this support will cost you a thing.
8. Stay safe
Wherever you can, stick to social distancing rules when you’re out and about in the community. You’ll be supporting local businesses by keeping their staff safe, their customers comfortable, and the wider community open for business.