Use them or lose them: It’s never been more important to Love Local

Want to know what you can do to support Norfolk's economy? Join our webinar. Picture: Archant

Want to know what you can do to support Norfolk's economy? Join our webinar. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The power of the pound in your pocket cannot be underestimated at a time when businesses are fighting for survival.

The loss to Norfolk and Waveney would be immeasurable if our thriving independent sector was wrecked by the coronavirus lockdown.

But on Monday non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen, providing a lifeline for businesses starved of funds.

MORE: Restaurant and hotel announces reopening dateWhich is why today this newspaper is launching the Love Local campaign, encouraging you to spend within our region and give the independent industry a vital boost.

Smaller, independently-owned and family-run businesses are predicted to close in droves, with the Corporate Finance Network estimating 20pc of the sector will fail due to lockdown.

And that is before businesses have so much as reopened their doors and footed a payroll bill – all while observing social distancing guidelines.

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This newspaper is right behind local businesses – and we are urging you to do your bit as well.

The campaign has been backed by MPs across Norfolk and Waveney, who have given their insight into how the county would suffer if local firms were not supported.

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Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk, is no stranger to the retail world having worked for CT Baker Group – owners of Barkers & Larners in Holt – as finance and IT director.

Mr Baker said: “I recognise that a vibrant high street contributes greatly to not just the local economy but the wellbeing of a community.

“We have some brilliant independent businesses in Norfolk. It is essential we give them the support to get back on their feet quickly, they offer jobs and employment and in doing so not only does spending locally boost the businesses directly but these are the very businesses that often reinvest locally helping our local communities further.

“Now as we aim to bounce back from the lockdown period, I fully endorse a shop local campaign as a way to support our brilliant businesses in towns and villages.”

West Norfolk MP James Wild, said: “I warmly welcome this campaign to support the re-opening of more of our high street and local stores from Monday. I urge everyone to shop local and back our brilliant independent and other stores. I look forward to a wider opening of our hospitality sector from July 4 subject to the evidence that it can be done safely.”

In the city, Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, said that one of the reasons to buy local was not immediately obvious.

MORE: Norwich Airport: ‘Tell us which destinations you’d like direct flights to’“Large corporations and big finance accumulated huge reserves of unspent capital,” Mr Lewis said. “Speculators are poised to splurge this on acquiring distressed businesses for knockdown prices and strip their assets. Keeping as much money as possible circulating in our local economy is one of the best ways we can all play a part in protecting our local economy.”

And Chloe Smith, the Norwich South MP, highlighted that livelihoods could be at stake: “In Norwich and nearby we have wonderful shops and a time like this we all want to put back into our own community.

“Buying locally particularly supports those small shops that will have had a tough time. Sometimes it can even mean the difference between more people having jobs or not.”

Speaking on market towns, Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said: “Towns like Attleborough, Dereham, Wymondham and Watton – and surrounding villages – are the hubs of our local community and economy. All of us who value local high streets need to use them. Or lose them. If we all buy local we can make a real difference.”

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, said: “I congratulate the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News on this campaign because the importance of buying locally can scarcely be overstated.

“I hope one of the good results from this dreadful pandemic is that as we slowly come out of lockdown there will be a genuine renaissance of local businesses. Making that happen is down to us as customers, nothing else. It is what our hard-working local business owners deserve. And it will be better for all of us too.”

On top of this, it is clear small businesses pay it back into the community.

According to a survey by the Federation of Small Business, 33pc of small businesses in East Anglia are offering some kind of extra support to customers in need during the coronavirus lockdown.

This includes offering free delivery to NHS workers and returning workers, as well as making PPE and hand sanitiser.

Andrew Mower, development manager in East Anglia for the FSB, said: “Despite facing incredibly uncertain times, around a quarter in East Anglia have stepped up to support key workers and nearly a third have prioritised their most vulnerable customers. As our economy reopens, these businesses will be at the heart of the recovery. It’s more important than ever to support our small firms and shop local.”

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