Bromley Liberal Democrats are calling on local residents to help local businesses bounce back after lockdown.
We have launched a shop local campaign encouraging people to protect businesses and save local jobs by buying from local shops and suppliers wherever possible.
Standing in Beckenham High Street, Chloe-Jane Ross recalled how much she relied on local shops who stayed open during lockdown despite the risks to themselves and their staff, and the many who started home delivery services especially for customers who couldn't leave their homes.
Orpington Lib Dem campaigner Rick Das told us how important Anbu's Newsagents became during lockdown. "To me, Anbu's Newsagent is one of Orpington's local heroes. Situated near the junction of Orpington's Station Road and Station Approach, and opposite The Maxwell pub, Anbu's was prompt to implement social distancing arrangements as soon as the Covid-19 lockdown and remained open for local residents and users of the nearby rail-bus interchange. Be it to grab a pint of milk or play the national lottery or to treat onself to an ice-cream, Anbu's remained a source of strength and support to the local community through the trying Covid-19 times."
We spoke to Justin, a Bromley resident who runs Jones the Butchers (https://jonesthebutcher.me.uk/) with his father. He says that as lockdown was introduced they saw 95% of their catering trade stop overnight and the management was in talks about redundancies. The only option for them to combat this sudden loss of income was to open up to the public and to offer home deliveries to those self isolating, whilst introducing new grocery products like bread and vegetables. As people were less able or willing to travel to larger supermarkets they saw a 150% increase in retail/home delivery customers. This became their lifeline in uncertain times, allowing them to keep all of their staff on full pay.
The British Chamber of Commerce has warned that almost one million small businesses across the country could be at risk of collapsing due to the economic impact of having been closed. Adding to the strain is the fact that Bromley businesses have had some of the lowest levels of financial support in London - recent figures from the Federation of Small Businesses show that Bromley ranked 4th worst in London in distribution of funds provided to businesses.
Bromley Borough is incredibly lucky with the variety of shops we have, from Bromley and Orpington High Street to the smaller but equally interesting Hayes, West Wickham, Petts Wood, Penge and Beckenham High Streets and the many many more shops dotted around. Once we lose these businesses there is no coming back. Local high streets were already under huge pressure before lockdown and the next few months are going to be extremely challenging. If we want the variety and personal touch that comes with local shops we need to do our bit to help.
We asked Justin what 'shop local' means to him after his experience during lockdown and he says:"Local shopping has not only saved our business but it has brought a sense of community to our shop. We have loved getting to know people in our area and giving them a high quality personal service that they wouldn't have received in the bigger supermarkets. As lockdown is starting to ease we are currently in a position to hire more staff, from apprentices to delivery drivers. We always try to hire people who are local to us, but it is now even more important to us. To give something back to the community that without there would be no more Jones, The Butchers."
Sam Webber talked about the threat to our High Streets across Bromley. Bromley Town Centre has a mix of large national chains and some friendly local shops, and all are under threat. "It's so important that when we shop, we use the shops that stood by us during this crisis," said Sam. "They're a vital part of our community and when they're gone there will be no turning back."
Now more than ever we need to get behind our local businesses, show our support and help save jobs and livelihoods. That's why Bromley Lib Dems are urging people to think local when they go shopping.