As shops all over Scotland prepare for re-opening and the end to lockdown getting closer, Forres Local is getting behind businesses to help them appeal to locals to keep shopping in the town.
Thousands of businesses were forced to shut overnight when Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the country to go into lockdown on March 24, and many have pondered whether they could survive such a lengthy, unplanned closure.
But here we are twelve weeks on, and some businesses have been given a date to re-open, and that date is next Monday, 29 June.
Some, sadly, still remain closed, particularly bars, accommodation providers and restaurants, and we hope, for their survival, that date is not too far away.
Marc Hindley, editor of Forres Local said: “Let’s not be under any illusion. This crisis has decimated businesses all over the UK. Some have managed to stay open and have been a lifeline to local people, some have even done well, but we don’t want this to be the survival of the fittest, we want to keep our small town as a thriving hub of community life.
“Lockdown has largely kept people closer to home and local food producers will tell you that they’ve seen many new customers during the covid-19 crisis. That’s good but we need it to continue and we need it to spread to the businesses that have been closed and are now going to open.
“It’s a two-way street, consumers will only shop locally if they are not coerced elsewhere. And that’s always been the danger. Shopping locally was important before this crisis, but it’s absolutely critical now.
“At Forres Local, we’re going to do what we can to support businesses. During Covid-19 we’ve highlighted those that are open or have changed operating procedures. As we come out of lockdown, we are committed to promoting local businesses.
“We have created graphics for businesses to display in their shops to remind people that shopping locally is valued, and we’ll conitinue to support a campaign for shopping locally. But a poster alone won’t shift the balance.
“I’ve been involved with many shop local campaigns and I’m acutely aware that posters alone won’t change anything, but we’ll do what we can to help customers stay in the tow for their shopping. Our website now is reaching 10,000 people a month, so we’ll be working on ways to deliver the shop local message as wide as we can.”
Show your support
The graphics created so far are being made availale to any business and we’d recommend that if you are a business owner, you should download it, print it, use it on your website, social media and shop windows. We’ll be creating new posters for businesses to use.
Pearl Hamilton, FSB National Councillor for Scotland, who also owns a small business in Forres, said everyone benefits from supporting the local economy: “The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the news that high streets would re-open and urged Scots to use their spending power to back independent shops. Iindependent retailers will welcome the news that they’ve been given a date on which they’ll be able to re-open.
“We’d urge people to back these local bookshops, corner shops, butchers, bakers and boutiques because they need your spending power like never before.
“All local business will welcome campaigns that encourage consumers, to use and buy local, those same consumers, for many small local businesses are also our family, friends and neighbours.”
Sarah Medcraf, chief executive officer at Moray Chamber of Commerce urged consumers to heed the message as a region: “Our local suppliers who have been able to operate throughout have really stepped up to the plate during this pandemic and offered tremendous service to their local areas.
“As consumers, we need to continue with these good habits and support them and the other businesses who are now able to reopen. Let’s work together as a region to support our shops, service providers and ultimately jobs.”
New ecommerce website and app
Over the next few weeks, we’ll also be announcing a local digital high street initiative. This is a large online project to allow every business to have a level playing field on our dedicated website. It will allow people to shop locally from the safety of their own home, with a seamless experience. We’ll be providing ecommerce functionality for small businesses who can’t justify the expense or technicality of an online shop, and an integration for those that already have one. There’ll be more details to come on that.
We’re also launching an app for Forres Local to include our newsfeed, directory and shop. It’ll also have details of local events when they start to happen again. This is another large project, and again look out for more details.
This progress will be made possible by applying for funding and attracting sponsorship. If you are a business and would like to donate or sponsor any of our projects, please get in touch by email to [email protected] We are a CIC (Community Interest Company) limited by guarantee, which means we have no shareholders and money raised goes directly into running projects such as this. Read more on our blog.
All that remains for us to say is, whoever you are, business owner or consumer, get behind this campaign. Does Forres Love Local? Of course it does. Use your social media, use your network of friends, your support bubble, your window, to help our town survive this lockdown.
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