Can business really survive lockdown?

I’ve tried to finish one of my many draft posts several times now, but it all just seems quite trivial and empty when you consider the ongoing pandemic. I’ve tried to talk about the “New Normal” but I frankly don’t know what that is.

In the UK we’re now in our 12th week of lockdown. Whilst the message has changed and certain restrictions are easing, including retail businesses re-opening, most of us are still largely stuck at home and a bit uncertain about what the future holds. Even if a lockdown was totally released, what does that mean for the UK economy, let alone people’s safety?

When I even go shopping now, I’m conscious to keep my distance, but honestly, it is a challenge when you’re both after the same food, or the aisle is narrow. There are queues and hand washing to get in, plastic protective panels and cash is discouraged. Can this really continue?

Supermarkets have had to respond to considerable demand; stockpiling meant up to 76% of shoppers experienced shortages in March. Many might prefer online shopping but the delivery slot has become something sacred, with Aldi now linking up with Deliveroo to facilitate this, and most retailers are looking to tech as the social distancing measures are expected to last.

Whilst big and small business are both being affected, survival rates of one are greater than the other. Despite many big businesses having reputable names, we may see the disappearance of some of those all together as they fail to compete and adapt in the changed market. Companies that have invested in successful online platforms have seen the rewards in recent months – despite both being department stores, John Lewis is in this time signing new retailers, where Debenhams looks to close 20 stores. Whilst I am no tech guru, their online space(s) are very different – I know which appeals to me, and therefore the news is not surprising.

The reality of this has hit the high street even harder. I actually haven’t walked down a high street in nearly three months, but the truth is that some small businesses currently closed, will never re-open. I love independent coffee shops, cafes, bars and little bespoke gift and clothing shops. Loans, grants and other financial support might help tide them over, but the truth is the high street has been in decline for years – and this might be the straw that breaks the camels back.

So what can we do?

If you can, shop smaller and more locally – check in if your pub or cafe has created a local deli and help them out by buying up their stock. Slow down on buying goods and services – think about what you really need to achieve from the purchase.

Be more involved in the changes happening. Where possible, look online first. Lots of small businesses rely on social media for marketing these days – check in there first. Respect people’s space and time, follow the rules and guidelines that are put in place. If a small boutique or shop opens that asks you to wash your hands and wear a face covering, or a restaurant tells you to sit three seats away from the next table – do so. We can help protect those going back to work and opening up together and maybe even stop them from closing down for good.

Finally, help those around you get used to the “new normal”. Everyone is frustrated and uncertain. Practice patience, teach your nana to use her contactless card and support companies that protect their people as well as their profits.

All opinions are my own. No paid or sponsored content. Quoted and relevant links credited. All links correct at the time of publication. Information researched and interpreted by myself. For entertainment only – this is not intended for advice. COVID-19 is a virus that needs to be taken seriously and firstly all medical advice provided by WHO and the NHS or relevant health authority should be followed. There may be unique advice for people who suffer from illnesses and one size does not fit all. If you consider yourself (or those close to you) at risk, seek advice – remotely – from a healthcare professional.

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