Why I'll be hugging a high street for Small Business Saturday

Admittedly, that’s a slightly misleading headline as I won’t be hugging anybody right now. But in my heart, I’ll be giving our local independent retailers a great big cuddle on Saturday 5 December.

As the collapse of two retail Goliaths this week has shown, even big business is not immune to the devastating effects of two pandemics: Covid-19 and online shopping. The first arrived out of nowhere a year ago, the second has been creeping up on the high street for decades.

But we’ve also learned something else important during this terrible year, in which many small businesses have emerged as the invaluable beating heart of their communities.

Being big might give you strength and buying power but being little gives you an agility that multinational corporations can only dream about. (Just ask David.) We’ve all seen local small businesses pivot, adapt or even completely reinvent themselves during 2020, in response to a global health emergency that has torn through our social, economic and business lives with abandon.

For examples of true resilience, check out the case studies about new and flourishing businesses on the Small Business Saturday website. To show your support, try and take part in Small Business Saturday by doing your Christmas shopping from local and independent retailers, however you safely can, either in-person or online.

It’s true that the shopping experience will not be the same this year – masks, number restrictions in store and social distancing are essential precautions to keep us all safe this festive season. But I’m really looking forward to responsibly exploring my local high street once again, knowing that I’m putting money back into the small businesses that will keep our country afloat, through this and future pandemics.

Sadly, living in Kent (a Tier 3 area) means I can’t retire to my favourite pub to raise a glass to small businesses everywhere. That will have to wait until I get home, but I’ll be counting the days until I can enjoy that freshly pulled pint once again.

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