Lockdown boosts nation's love for small businesses

·3 min read
Bob and Vanessa McCulloch, the owners of Tom Foolery Coffee Company in Shoreham-by-Sea, are just two of thousands of small business owners who have had to rethink their strategy for customers
Bob and Vanessa McCulloch, the owners of Tom Foolery Coffee Company in Shoreham-by-Sea, are just two of thousands of small business owners who have had to rethink their strategy for customers

Coronavirus lockdowns have boosted the nation’s love for UK small businesses, with 59 per cent of Brits saying they now support local businesses more than previously.

Research, commissioned by American Express and Small Business Saturday UK, underscores the huge role small firms have played in supporting their communities through lockdown, with many pivoting to offer people new products and services such as deliveries, takeaways and virtual consultations.

This has led to a big rise in public support, with more than a third of people also saying they’ll continue their backing in the same way as they did before Covid-19, despite the recession.

This surge in affection will be vital for Small Business Saturday, which takes place on December 5. A grassroots, non-commercial campaign, it celebrates small business success and encourages consumers to 'shop local’ to support their communities.

“This crisis has brought home just how much small firms are at the heart of our communities," said Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday.

“They have been there for customers and shown strength, determination and agility in coping. It’s no wonder that support for Britain’s small businesses is rocketing. It’s vital we continue to support small businesses as this crisis continues, which is why we are determined to make this year’s campaign the most impactful ever.”

An example of small business ingenuity is Bob and Vanessa McCulloch, the owners of Tom Foolery Coffee Company in Shoreham-by-Sea.

Left reeling by lockdown, they wasted no time in adapting and building a new takeaway counter at the front of their store and a new retail product line, which has proved popular locally.

“Covid-19 has been tough for our business, but support from our community has been amazing. People have been very appreciative of the changes we have made and got behind us," said Vanessa McCulloch.

Now in its eighth year in the UK, Small Business Saturday has grown significantly each year with an estimated £800m spent in small businesses across the UK on the day last year, with a record turnout of 17.6 million people choosing to shop local that day alone.

Small Business Saturday was originally founded by American Express in the US in 2010, which remains the principal supporter of the campaign in the UK, as part of its avid championing of the UK high street and commitment to encourage consumers to shop small.

“Our local communities are richer and more vibrant for the presence of these independents and people across the UK are behind them like never before," said American Express' General Manager UK, Global Merchant and Network Services, Dan Edelman.

"It’s so important that we all continue to support our favourite local small businesses and we’re proud to play our part as principal supporter of Small Business Saturday and through our own Shop Small campaign”.

In the run up to Small Business Saturday UK, the campaign will kick off an online tour in November virtually visiting more than 33 towns and cities across the UK.