From Help High Street
Announcing the launch of Help High Street - helphighstreet.co.uk which is a platform made by volunteers from the London Borough of Brent to support small businesses impacted by the coronavirus and help them survive the post lockdown world.
Local communities are worried about their favourite restaurants, cafes and beauty salons going out of business because of the pandemic. Although this is a serious threat to the high street we believe that by raising awareness about gift cards, crowdfunding or online stores. Businesses will be better prepared to survive the post lockdown world.
The local high street has struggled during the lockdown measures which has led to enforced closures for over two months; the consequences of which is painting a bleak economic picture for many small businesses.
In a recent survey of businesses, they shared the following most common ways they have been affected by the lockdown measures
- 72% had seen decreased orders and sales
- 56% had lost business due to cancelled contracts or orders
- 50% reported cash flow issues
Source: Business West Chambers of Commerce
The businesses that are most affected are personal services such as beauty salons and hospitality.
- Personal services such as salons, spas, dry cleaners 100%
- Hospitality 95%
- Retail 73%
Source: Business West Chambers of Commerce
Size is another factor that is affecting businesses, with smaller companies hit the hardest, especially if the company has fewer than 20 employees.
The loss of high street businesses can result in a ripple effect that can wipe out identity and culture, leaving local communities devastated.
“We will see empty premises, because not all businesses will make it through”.
- Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, Melanie Leech.
British Independent Retailers Association have said that 20% of businesses may not reopen 'because it would be more expensive for them to run their shops if footfall is low.'
Act now to help the high street
If we don’t act now, our high streets will lose many shops forever to the coronavirus. Fortunately, one of the positive outcomes from the pandemic has been a renewed sense of community; especially seen in volunteers supporting the vulnerable to donations being raised to save under-threat music venues.
An increasing amount of small businesses are harnessing innovative technologies to help their businesses survive. Some businesses have raised thousands of pounds from gift card sales by engaging with their local communities who are keen to show their support.
This is where Help High Street wants to use its platform to make things easier for businesses with gift card programs to reach customers.
Businesses with existing gift card programs can use our platform to see if their business is listed and then claim the businesses for free. If it isn’t listed they can simply add their business and link to their gift card scheme. If businesses don’t have a gift card program, we have a tool kit which provides advice on how to set one up.
If you’re worried about the high street, we want you to bring that sense of community to helphighstreet.co.uk. You can find your favourite businesses and buy gift cards from them for use whenever you feel it’s safe to visit the high street again.This platform is a voluntary project and 100% of gift purchases go to small businesses.
Help High Street’s founder David Goodwin, a User Experience Consultant said ‘I was inspired to create this platform after reading a story in a local newspaper that said a pub made £25k from selling gift cards for customers to use later. I can’t believe that more businesses aren’t doing this and I want to raise awareness and make it easier for customers to support their favourite business in innovative ways’.
The platform also features art from Otto Schade, who is famous for his ribbon-style street murals which can be found in cities all around the world.
The significance of Schade’s art reflects the struggle to make it through the coronavirus lockdown, represented by the unravelling ribbons shown in his art.
With the current UK economy uncertainty and small business owners voicing their concerns, we don’t have to see our favourite restaurant close forever. We can help the high street by acting now and using technology to support them in innovative ways.