Consumers keen to support businesses hit by coronavirus

High street businesses in King's Lynn have been hit by the pandemic  Picture: Matthew Usher

High street businesses in King's Lynn have been hit by the pandemic Picture: Matthew Usher

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Consumers are keen to support businesses in west Norfolk as shops and services in the district feel the impact of coronavirus.

Some 88pc of businesses in the borough have been impacted by the pandemic, while there is a great deal of uncertainty over the future.

These are the key findings from a consultation which took place earlier this summer to understand consumer and business confidence as lockdown eases.

In the consumer survey - which was carried out on behalf of the borough council and which saw over 150 people give their views - 96pc of respondents stated that it is important for them to use local businesses in west Norfolk, while 60pc said it was extremely important.

However, whilst there is an appetite for using independent businesses, online shopping is becoming increasingly important for consumers, with 95pc saying they shopped online and 20pc saying they intended to shop online more in future.

The survey also revealed that around half of the participants intend to eat or drink out in the next three months, but there has been a marked decrease in west Norfolk consumers shopping for pleasure with 54pc stating they are doing less non-essential shopping.

Graham Middleton, West Norfolk council’s cabinet member for business development said: “We know that the last few months have been difficult for everyone and through this consultation, we wanted to understand how consumers feel about accessing services as lockdown eases.

“It is really encouraging to learn that so many people are keen to use local businesses here in west Norfolk, and consumer support is so important, now more than ever.

“We have already implemented a number of measures to make it easier for consumers to use businesses in west Norfolk. This feedback will help us to shape our support further so that people feel confident and safe to access the many brilliant local shops and services we have here.”

As well as the consumer survey, the consultation also sought feedback from businesses across the district with 114 giving their views.

Some 88pc of respondents said coronavirus has impacted on their business over the last three months, with 63pc describing its impact as significant.

There is a great deal of uncertainty amongst businesses in the future, including around employing staff and long-term confidence. Businesses feel that attracting and retaining customers and financial concerns are the biggest challenges they face.

And, the areas where businesses feel they need help most is around financial support and marketing to bring in footfall and custom. In particular, a number of businesses said that they need training and assistance to adapt their services online in the next six months.

In spite of the difficult circumstances, 39 per cent of businesses participating said that they are confident for their prospects in the next 6-12 months.

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