The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on people to shop small and support small firms as thousands of small retail businesses prepare to reopen their doors for the first time since March.
As the coronavirus crisis unfolded, more than half (51%) of all small firms closed at some stage of the lockdown, and of those small businesses which have closed and remained closed during the lockdown, 20% do not believe they can reopen in a way that is compliant with their respective Government’s advice on working safely including social distancing.
FSB national chair Mike Cherry said: “The past few months have been and remain some of the toughest periods of trading that the economy has faced in recent history.
“Right across every single village, high street, town centre and city shopping centre, small businesses have faced an unprecedented period of turbulence the likes none have seen before.
“That is why today is a crucial landmark in getting back to business, bringing the retail economy back on track as well as crucially safeguarding the livelihoods of millions of employees.
“But this won’t be like flicking on a light switch, for many this will be a slow and gradual easing back into business. Not every small firm will find it financially viable to open, while others will not be able to cope with full customer demand on day one with social distancing measures still in place, and their desire to protect their staff, suppliers and customers.
“Some shops are deliberately staggering opening times among themselves to help manage the high street, and manage deliveries.”
According to an FSB survey, 35% of all small businesses have remained closed during lockdown, while 60% of retailers temporarily ceased trading.
Three in five (60%) said it would cost up to £1,000 to comply with government guidance on working safely, while 28% put that estimate as high as £10,000.
Mr Cherry added: “The raft of financial packages from the Government has enabled thousands of businesses to stay afloat, but this of course cannot last forever, and we need small businesses to be back and trading, so they can get back on their feet. That’s why it’s vital that the public now do all they can to support small firms as they start to reopen.
“In place of a physical visit to a retailer, many small firms are trading in some capacity online, this is a great way support businesses that aren’t ready to open just yet.
“Perhaps also go on to their social media and express your support, and provide a positive review where they have a review site. But for those going into the bricks and mortar stores, patience from the public is needed.
“There may be queues in place, limits on the number of shoppers in a single building and other measures all designed to protect staff as well as customers. So I’d urge everyone to show patience and consideration especially during the next couple of weeks.
“Making up 99% of all businesses in the country, small firms are already the backbone of the economy as well as being at the heart of their local communities which is why they will play a pivotal role in the economic recovery over the weeks and months to come.
“Therefore it has never been more important to support small firms, shop local and support the nation’s self-employed.”