FSB calls on the public to support small businesses as they open up in Leighton Buzzard

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on Leighton Buzzard residents to support the town's shops as they emerge from lockdown.

Friday, 19th June 2020, 11:56 am

Along with thousands of independent retailers nationally, Leighton Buzzard businesses begun reopening their doors this week for the first time since March.

The FSB is calling on people, when they shop, to shop small and support small firms after this huge period of national crisis.

As the 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 per cent do not believe they can reopen in a way that is compliant with their respective Government’s advice on working safely including social distancing.

Joanna Mulcahy at Kings Road Fashions

Leighton Buzzard's Kings Road Fashions, in Peacock Mews, is just one local business who reopened their doors this week.

Owner Joanna Mulcahy said: “It has been very challenging over recent months, we have had to deal with a great deal of uncertainty about how we would get through the situation. I am delighted to say that we have opened this week to such positive reactions from customers.

"It inspires me to keep working at it, and that we will come through it together stronger. I hope that the ‘shop local – use it or lose it’ sentiment will prevail after COVID.”

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman 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.

“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 per cent 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.”

The FSB Special Interest Group, chaired by Gennaro Borrelli, has been working closely with Central Beds Council and the town council in support of reopening and a plan for the high street post-coronavirus.

How have you found shopping in Leighton Buzzard this week, or have you stayed away? Send your views to [email protected]