Small businesses can offer a “warm and secure” welcome, says Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Scully.
Paul Scully is encouraging residents to support small businesses as part of an annual campaign called ‘Small Business Saturday’.
The campaign aims to tap into the soaring public affection for small businesses, as research from the campaign and American Express shows 59 per cent of Brits support small businesses more than previously, following the major role firms played in communities during the pandemic.
“The campaign is a really good opportunity to ensure that people get out, shop local and look at small businesses that are able to offer particular tailored support,” said Paul Scully.
On Wednesday ( December 3), the national lockdown was lifted in England, meaning the country returned to the three-tier system that was first put in place in October.
In a bid to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed, the government announced new opening times for shops.
“We are expecting a lot of people to come out because they haven’t been able to shop throughout November,” said Mr Scully.
“In the lead up to Christmas, they clearly want to do that safely.
“If we can encourage people to shop over the day instead of all at once, it would be a good opportunity.
“I hope that Sutton Council will encourage retailers to open in the evenings if retailers want to.”
Sutton businesses have received nearly £7 million in government grants via Sutton Council to support them through the last 4 weeks of restrictions.
Paul Scully went onto say that it is not “too late for retail to bounce back”.
“Make no mistake there will be closures, we have seen this with the two announcements with Debenhams and Arcadia,” he said.
“There are tens of thousands of people, up and down the country that are unfortunately facing a really difficult few weeks.
“But there are still some great businesses in our local high streets.
“The high streets will change and it’s important that we help shape what we want Sutton to look like.”
He added: “Retail will bounce back in a pivoted and adjusted different form.
“That is why the government is putting assistance through kickstarter loans and kickstarter projects.
“In some areas, the convenience of online will win over, but what comes in its place as we shape that change – will create new jobs and opportunities for people who are in difficult periods.
“This isn’t just about promoting independent stores for the sake of it, it is to ensure we have local employment in Sutton.
“We all need to do our bit for those who are less fortunate, Sutton Night Watch is a brilliant example of that.”
He added: “I have run small businesses for 25-years and I have always tried to champion independent stores across Sutton for that reason.
“I know how lonely and challenging it is at the best times when things are going well, let alone in a situation like this.
“People can often worry about brands, but the brands do have a big role as they bring people to the high street.”
Speaking about the controversy surrounding the tiers he said: “Clearly, there is still a lot of issues for hospitality- the fact that people can’t mix indoors is a real challenge for them.
“Which is why we are offering extra support for the pubs that are still not economically viable to open- the ones that do not serve food.
Paul Scully supporting bakery, La Petite Boulangerie Cheam (Pic from 2019)
“The whole purpose of these tiers are to ensure that people don’t mingle for too long and transmit the disease.
“The tier system allows us to open retail in all three tiers; it allows us to open gyms again and personal care and beauty.
“The key thing for us is, If we can all go with the grain and work together as a community, then we don’t need this to last a day longer than it has to.
“Which area and in which tier will be reviewed in two weeks time.
“Hopefully we can see things open up again and we can put 2020 firmly behind us, with a vaccine coming.”
Paul Scully plans to take part in ‘Small Business Saturday’ by visiting various stores in and around the London Borough of Sutton.
He is particularly looking forward to visiting Warrenders Jewellers on their 50th anniversary.
“This small independent jeweller has been running successfully for 50-years,” he said.
“If they’ve gone through all the turmoil and ups and downs we have had in 50-years, then we have got to make sure they get through this one, as extraordinary as this pandemic has been.”