OPINION: Stay at home, buy local, save a business’s life

We’re now three weeks into a lockdown. And it’s decision-time for the Government. Will it continue to restrict our movements to slow the spread of the coronavirus? Will restrictions get tougher? It would be foolish to think that we could go back to normal just yet, but at this point, the people in power must have some usable data to better predict how long a lockdown will last. We need hope, and that means a date, even if it’s provisional.

They tell us that the virus is not accelerating, but that doesn’t mean it’s not spreading. If an out-of-control truck is heading for a school, do we take our eyes off the ball? Do we sit back and think that’s OK because it’s not accelerating.

No. It’s still going to do some serious damage. We must slow it till it stops. And likewise with the virus.

Let’s focus on the positives

However, we should take some positivity from the message. If acceleration has slowed then it’s going in the right direction. If the public are increasingly isolating and distancing, then the spread WILL slow. We must not use the acceleration message as an opportunity to relax. We should see it as a sign to be even more determined, to accept that we can defend our country from this virus, and to be in it together for all our sakes, not just ourselves.

I doubt that Forres has suffered any more than any other town. But it has suffered. Every person living here has suffered in one way or another at a personal level, and even more so, if they are a business owner.

The business problem

Apart from anyone suffering the terrible reality of the coronavirus, it is perhaps businesses which have suffered, or will suffer, the most in the long term, because, depending how long the lockdown goes on for, many may not bounce back. And that’s not their fault. Businesses just aren’t built to cope with such a lengthy hiatus.

All business owners know that even a brief stoppage can cause severe problems – deliveries delayed by RTCs, phone lines going down, staff sickness – they’re all glitches, but in the grand scheme of things, glitches are part and parcel of everyday business life. Lockdown is different, we’re now three weeks in. Profit margins, cash flow, shelf life, staff morale (not to mention wages), have all been thrown into disarray.

I’ve spoken to many local business people over the last three weeks, some are optimistic, others are not. They’re not able to plan because they don’t know when they can start buying stock, cooking food, paying wages. They’re in limbo. And despite Government help, most still have outgoings and most have little to no income for the foreseeable future.

That’s not to say they’re being complacent. Some are battling through to make ends meet, others are rethinking how they deliver products and services, and in some cases are seeing a mini-boom.

Buy local

For those that remain operational, whether working from home, delivering food to the isolated, or doing their best to keep staff and customers a sensible distance apart, you, the consumers of Forres and surrounding villages must support them the best you can.

Look at this way. some of the businesses which are doing well in this chaos are doing well through mail order. That means people outside of Forres are buying stuff from OUR local businesses. Maybe they don’t have the variety and range of produce we have in our home town?

But if they can do it so can you. And on the whole it looks like you are.

The Government’s message is ‘stay home and save lives’, and we should. But for as long as we’re stuck at home, reduced income or not, if you buy what you can from local shops, you might save a business’s life too.

We publish a list of businesses that are permitted to open and details of how to contact them.

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