COVID-19 – Top ways to support small businesses

Following orders from the Prime Minister on 23 March 2020, the UK’s pubs, clubs, restaurants, and non-essential shops began to shut their doors. As the coronavirus pandemic dominated headlines, so too did it lay siege to businesses of all sizes across the land, leaving many without any income and putting livelihoods at risk.

Whilst social distancing and localised lockdowns look set to remain a part of life for the foreseeable future, many of our nation’s businesses are back at it trying to ply their trade and survive amidst some of the toughest trading conditions in recorded history. As warnings from such organisations as the IMF and the Bank of England tell of unprecedented economic turmoil, helping out the UK’s businesses is something that we can all do – whether blessed with a large disposable income or not.

With the battle against coronavirus still raging on, here are the top ways you can help small businesses to survive the storm.

Eat out to help out explained

To much fanfare from the media, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has led the charge against the pandemic-induced downturn by introducing an incentive for the public to dine out during August 2020. As part of the “Eat out to help out” scheme, more than 72,000 venues across the country will offer half-price meals, Mondays through to Wednesdays during August, up to a discount value of £10 off per person.

Encompassing local eateries along with well-known staples such as McDonald’s and Nando’s, it is hoped that people will flock back to the hospitality industry to give it a much-needed kickstart after months of not trading. With the express aim of protecting jobs for 1.8 million chefs, waiters and restaurant operators, “Eat out to help out” could see you feasting for less this summer.

To find out participating venues near you, enter your postcode into the government’s dedicated site here

Shop locally 

Another way to support businesses is to shop locally, and the pandemic has seen many of the nation’s smallest retailers dip their toes into the waters of online shopping. Whether it’s through an existing platform or via their own website, there are plenty of businesses that are beginning to see the benefits of selling via the internet. 

As social distancing makes it more difficult for shops to welcome customers in the usual fashion, placing your order online could help to ease congestion whilst letting you get hold of top quality goods that help your local area to survive and thrive. Provided that they have a secure and reliable eCommerce payment gateway, you could be making purchases seamlessly from the comfort of your own home whilst supporting the local economy. For instance, if your business is thinking about adding an eCommerce to your online platform, have a look at UTP Group and their payment solutions. 

On the flip side, taking some time out of your day to visit the local high street could see you supporting businesses and neighbours in more ways than you might think. Choosing to visit a butcher, baker or greengrocer might help them to survive despite the popularity of supermarkets, whilst doing your food shop in this way can help free up online delivery slots for elderly and vulnerable people.

Leave a review

Even if you can’t make a huge purchase to support local businesses, you can still help them out by raising their profile online. If you know of a local business that offers great service, fantastic products and good value, let the world know about it. 

Whether you’re posting to social media, TripAdvisor or simply on Google, leaving a review about a local gem could help it to pick up some steam with customers who might otherwise have never come across it. It’s a great way to support your local retailers and can really give business owners the strength and willpower needed to continue trading.

Buy a gift card

Purchasing a gift card is a great way to inject a little cash into your favourite local business – helping them to survive whilst securing yourself some well-deserved goodies in future. Nowadays everywhere from hair and beauty salons to restaurants and boutiques offer gift cards (both physical and digital), which can either act as a thoughtful gift or a little personal pick-me-up. 

Shopping in this way shows businesses just how loyal their customer base can be, but could also help with social distancing efforts as shops are forced to limit the number of customers, they allow in at anyone time. Instead, you could save the browsing for later and keep your gift card tucked away in the knowledge that your money has gone towards helping a business to survive.

Share the knowledge

Supporting small businesses doesn’t have to exclusively involve buying their products or services, and sharing a tip here and there can never hurt.

If you know of a well-read business directory or a local scheme that could help a shopkeeper to attract new custom, let them know. Even if they ultimately don’t act on your advice, it could help them to build up a better picture of what’s going on in the market and go on to make the business decisions that will serve them best. From government bounce back loans to the super flexible cash advance scheme offered by merchant services provider UTP Group, knowledge really is power when it comes to commercial success post-COVID.

Making a difference

We all know just how bad the coronavirus has been for small businesses up and down the country, but as summer rolls in so too does the promise of a new chance to revive our economy. Even if you have a limited budget, helping local businesses by taking the steps we’ve outlined above could be critical to their survival – a commendable goal that we can all agree on.