When shops closed for lockdown last spring, the future looked bleak for small, independent businesses like the gift shop, “Alice Rose Gifts” in Caterham. The business had already been struggling in the face of competition from online gift shops and falling passing trade.
“Competition from online shops like Moonpig had resulted in a noticeable fall in our trade in recent years, and I had been thinking of shutting up shop and finding work doing something completely different,” says Michele O’Connell, owner of Alice Rose Gifts.
However, after lockdown was announced, the £10,000 government grant for small businesses helped Michele get her business back into a stronger financial position. Trade took a surprising turn for the better when lockdown eased and shops were able to re-open.
“I have been pleasantly surprised to see an increase in sales since we re-opened the shop earlier this summer”, says Michelle.
“I have had new customers coming in who only live a few streets away. They said they did not know the shop was here until they explored their local area during lockdown.
“Caterham is a commuter town. Many residents commute to work every day then come home, without ever getting round to exploring what is on their doorstep,” says Michele.
“During lockdown, people had no choice but to stay local, and my business is feeling the benefit. I know other small businesses in this area have also seen a recent upturn in trade so, hopefully, some good for small businesses will have come out of this terrible pandemic.”
Maybe every cloud does indeed have a silver lining!
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