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The UK is finally heading out of lockdown. Local businesses are opening back up and eager customers are flocking in crowds to high streets up and down the country.
But for some local businesses, it’s a case of too little, too late. 10,000 licensed premises and over 5,000 retail stores closed their doors for good in 2020. So what can you do to support your local favourites as 2021 progresses?
Keep reading for six, easy ways to lift up local businesses — making your post-lockdown shopping trips, hair appointments, and other “non-essential” pleasures stress-free for everyone.
After months of being stuck inside, we totally understand the temptation to catch up on lost time and fill your schedule with all sorts of appointments. That’s great — and it’s exactly what local businesses need right now. But only if you can go to them!
Whether you’re booking a table at a local restaurant or finally scheduling that much-needed massage, local businesses simply can’t afford to reserve slots that are going to end up empty. Believe it or not, no-shows cost UK restaurants £16 million in your average (non-lockdown) year. A hit of that size now — at a time when most establishments are mandated to operate under-capacity — could just bring a struggling industry to its knees.
But it’s easily avoided! Simply check your diary before making any bookings and avoid over-committing. It’s no problem if something comes up and you need to rearrange — but let the business team know, as soon as you can!
That way, they’ll be able to fill your slot rather than going without.
Being COVID-secure is a non-negotiable for any business in operation right now. Ever-changing regulations are tough enough for you and I to keep up with, but can you imagine the responsibility for protecting customers, too? It’s no mean feat — and requires all of us to stick together, if we’re going to get it right.
Please, please follow the COVID safety measures in place when visiting a business. This will usually mean wearing a face covering, maintaining social distancing, and sanitising your hands before touching any products.
Customer feedback is essential for any businesses to grow and improve. So if you’re feeling confused, frustrated, or under-protected while using a local store or service, make your voice heard — don’t stop visiting!
We’re in a major adjustment period right now, and local business owners know that more than most. Most businesses will be keen to engage in constructive conversation with their customers, so don’t be afraid to have a quiet word.
By speaking up, you’re not only helping the business do better, you could also help more customers by sharing your view. And that’s a win-win we can all get behind.
Small businesses are facing a longer list of “must-dos”, with fewer staff to manage them. That’s why you may find service a little slower than before, as staff adjust to the new normal.
If that’s the case, be patient and kind if things don’t run as smoothly as you’d like them to.
If a local business impressed you, let them know. Leaving a positive review can go a long way right now. They’ll not only put a smile on the business owner’s face, but could also inspire other local customers to make a visit, too.
Google and Facebook are the best platforms to post a review, as they’re typically the first port of call for potential customers looking to suss a business out. Simply pop the business’ name into the site’s search bar and leave your review on their official profile or page.
Show off your tasty meal, stylish haircut or exciting new purchase if you’re really wanting to share some love! You could even shine a light on the business’ approach to COVID if you want to reassure other customers who might be concerned about popping in.
Blown away by a local business? Tell your friends and family, as well!
Just like leaving an online review, good old-fashioned word of mouth carries a lot of weight when supporting local businesses. And if anyone can convince your friends and family to visit a local business… it’s you!
So spread the word and let your social circle know about hidden gems in your local area. They’ll appreciate it, and so will the business.
We could all do with a big, supportive, socially-distanced air hug right now — especially local business owners!
So get out there, follow the rules, stay patient, and rediscover your local business community. Who knows what new favourites you might find?