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How to Support Local Businesses While Social Distancing

Ways you can support local and other small businesses while social distancing.
Andrea Reiher, Writer

As we all stay home to practise social distancing, local shops are feeling the impact of reduced business and issues of inventory management. Locally owned businesses are the lifeblood of communities, and they often give neighbourhoods their unique character and sense of community.

With the necessary practice of social distancing in place right now, it can be difficult to know how to support local business. Here are a few things you can do.

Purchase gift cards from your favorite places

One of the biggest ways that we can help the bars, pubs, restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues that have had to temporarily close across the country is by purchasing digital gift cards. With a digital gift card, a code is typically emailed to you. You can support local business and purchase something online from your favourite retailer in the future.

You could also find ways to get gift cards into the hands of local families in need by asking restaurants to partner with a local food bank. At this time especially, any extra assistance helps.

Gift cards give purchasers something to look forward to once the danger (and social distancing) has passed. So if you need a resource to help you find local businesses to support, try Square’s Give and Get Local directory, which is searchable by city.

Shop online (for yourself or others)

While many businesses have closed their physical locations to customers, they are still able to offer a variety of online options for customers to support small businesses. If you have a favourite local retailer, consider shopping on its Square Online Store for things you might need right now, from household goods to toys or entertainment for your children who might not be currently in school.

If you don’t find yourself personally in need of anything from your favourite local businesses, consider using small businesses to put together care packages for local healthcare workers. Or maybe you know of a friend or family member who lives alone and might be cheered up by a thoughtful gift.

Order takeaway food or drinks

Many restaurants now offer takeaway and deliveries as part of their compliance with local stay-at-home orders or as a way to pivot their business and add new revenue. Check their social media accounts, recent emails, or website to find out their offerings. Ordering takeaway and delivery online or through your favourite delivery app is a great way to support local business. You can only cook so many meals before you need a break, so when that time does come, call around to your favourite local restaurants to see what they have available. Or use their app or website to order online.

If you have a favourite local watering hole, ask about purchasing unopened beer, wine, or spirits. It could be a great way to enjoy your favourite alcoholic beverages and show your small business support at the same time. If the restaurant has an off-sales license, they’ll be able to sell alcohol for takeaway. Due to local lockdown regulations, the UK government might make an exception for pubs and restaurants to sell their unopened inventory.

If you’re worried about the health and safety of getting curbside orders, check in with the business first. Many retail businesses and retail shops offer contactless payments where customers can just tap and go. To find recent announcements and changes to service, check the business’s social media accounts or website to learn about the extra steps it’s taking to ensure cleanliness and safety on delivery and pickup orders.

Organise a virtual fundraiser for your High Street

If you want to show support for a small business in your area, organising a fundraiser or even just assembling the information for how customers can buy a digital gift card for or apparel from their favourite stores and restaurants could make a huge difference. Research local organisations in your community that support local business by giving local customers a central location in which to help. If there isn’t anything in place already, consider starting one for your community. Set up a website and a Facebook page listing all the local businesses that need cash flow.

Also, just because face-to-face interactions aren’t happening as often doesn’t mean we can’t all be social online. In fact, it’s a key way to help local businesses. Promote your favourite businesses on your personal Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook account. Friends who live near you might not be aware of which local businesses are in need of help, and online friends might want to help out from afar.

Share helpful resources for small business owners

There are several small business support services available for those who need it. The UK government is offering financial support for small businesses, including small business loans, so if you know a small business owner, make sure they know about the different avenues of relief that are available to support local businesses. Learn more about what support for your business you can receive for different industries in cities across the UK.