The Coronavirus outbreak has dealt business a blow with the unprecedented lockdown demanded by government sparking panic buying and giving the economy more jitters than a dodgy curry.
And when big brands batten down the hatches with their gloomy forecasts, the common perception is that small independent traders will feel more than the pinch as they stumble towards an uncertain future.
However, the entrepreneurial flame which encouraged them to set up on their own in the first place seems to be lighting a new – and, in some cases, profitable – path.
With necessity the mother of invention, many small businesses have taken a slight detour to take advantage of severe shortages after the initial surge of panic-buying laid waste to the big boys’ storerooms.
Such as the independent whisky and gin producers who gave customers a welcome tonic by stepping in to plug the shortfall as shoppers stripped supermarket shelves in their quest for alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
And when the Prime Minister announced restrictions on public gatherings, many bars and restaurants refused to bemoan their misfortune and decided to diversify into the takeaway industry. The Glasshouse Beer Company, a brewery and taphouse in Birmingham, for instance, saw a swift decline in footfall and decided to tweak their business model, introducing a beer delivery service with payment taken before delivery, invoices sent remotely and the ordered cans left on the customer’s doorstep to minimise social contact.
Within 24 hours of introduction, they had advance orders of more than £2,500.
And while urban-based restaurants have flourished thanks to the added dimension of delivering takeaways, rural gastropubs have found themselves providing a much-needed ‘meals on wheels’ service for the vulnerable and self-isolating, as well as remote communities
Of course, in times of crises such as this, customers lean more heavily on internet-savvy businesses, particularly food suppliers such as Bramblebee Farm in Norfolk, who have reported a massive surge in demand for their food boxes of fresh vegetables and locally-produced meats as keyboard shoppers make the most of lockdown and let their fingers, rather than their feet, do the walking.
But if your daily exercise guides you towards your trusty local corner shop, rather than the supermarket, so much the better.
Perhaps more than ever before “use it or lose it” is highly prophetic. And if you do indeed “use it”, leave a review online – both you and the small business in our community could be grateful in the long run.
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