North Kesteven District Council wants to help boost small businesses when many re-open after the month-long lockdown.
They are supporting a national initiative called ‘Small Business Saturday’ on December 5, with the aim of getting more people spending locally in the run-up to Christmas.
This is a grass-roots campaign which highlights provincial business success by encouraging consumers to ‘shop local’ and support retail within the community.
This will be the first Saturday non-essential shopping has been permitted in a month and the council want to seize the opportunity to give a much needed boost to local businesses.
Council Leader Councillor Richard Wright said: “Small Business Saturday intends to champion and promote all manner of businesses which make our high streets and local centres the vibrant and unique places they are.
“The day has also taken on additional meaning this year as our local businesses continue to deal with the many challenges posed by Coronavirus.
“Shoppers can lend their support in person to businesses on Small Business Saturday, as retail shops and personal care services are permitted to open under tier 3 restrictions from Wednesday 2 December.”
As part of this campaign the council is even offering to help window-dress shops in Sleaford.
They have bunting available completely free of charge, to give to shop owners to to decorate their businesses.
That is not all, with the council also on the verge of launching an exciting new district-wide directory, as part of its broader promotion and support for local business.
The directory will be a one stop shop for those looking to buy products locally, listing high street shops, retailers and other businesses.
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Lorraine Buckley owner of Lorraine’s Children’s Wear which opened last year, says it will be a crucial period for local businesses in Sleaford.
She said: “I am really hopeful that people do come out and shop local, especially as the smaller businesses rely on Christmas trade.
“I am still keeping measures in my shop the same as before lockdown, limiting the number of people, using contactless payment etc so will remain safe.
“Last year was my first Christmas here and it was hard, a lot of people still didn’t know we existed, so this year I was hoping it would’ve been busier as my customer base is bigger, but after Covid-19 I’ll have to wait and see what happens, hopefully Saturday will be busy.”
Many small businesses across the country take part in the event and often host events or offer special discounts.
Tara who runs Sparkle and Dot in Ruskington – which produce hand stamped jewellery and keyrings, says any support afforded to small local business makes a huge difference.
She said: “Ruskington & Sleaford has a fab selection of small businesses both online & on the High St. Since March I have mainly used the village (Ruskington) for everything, and even use bigger supermarkets less and less.
“I think supporting locally run businesses is vital all of the time, but I am definitely more conscious of supporting local businesses at the moment.”
Businesses requiring the bunting window decoration should email [email protected], before 9am on Thursday December 3.
Although non-essential shops will be allowed to open for the first time in a month, the council have urged shoppers involved to still respect the social distancing guidelines.
The campaign is a timely boost for many who were left upset by the news that Lincolnshire will be in the highest level of tier restrictions, with that disappointment acknowledged by North Kesteven council in a statement last week.
Councillor Wright added: “It’s imperative however that as residents we follow the tier 3 guidance – for example going by foot or bike where possible and avoiding unnecessary travel – and as customers we keep to the Covid-safe precautions in place at each premises.
“That includes social distancing and good hand hygiene, waiting in turn to enter shops, and wearing a face covering unless exempt.
“Shoppers can still lend support by placing orders over the phone or online.
“I’d also urge anyone to help local businesses not permitted to open under the tier 3 restrictions, if they can, by ordering food and drink for collection, drive-through or delivery or ordering gift vouchers.”
Both Businesses and shoppers should use the hashtag #SmallBizSatUK on social media to get involved.