Independent Lincoln businesses are feeling the heat amid the coldest months of the year thanks to current coronavirus restrictions.
Under the latest guidelines, non-essential shops have been allowed to remain open alongside supermarkets and grocery shops for the second UK lockdown, but only on a click and collect basis, and during the most profitable time of year local businesses are being hit harder than first thought.
While this allows smaller independent shops to keep trading, many are struggling to make a profit, as it also means large chain retailers such as Game, River Island and Warren James can operate under the same system, and in the midst of a global pandemic, it is harder for customers to find the cash for those specialty shops.
Sasha Drennen, who owns Lindum Books in the Cathedral Quarter of Lincoln is worrying about the coming weeks.
“We’re looking at about 30, maybe even 25 percent of our usual take from this period, and that’s a real problem because November and December are our two busiest months of the year and we’ve just lost all that income,” said Sasha.
“Normally what we can get in those two months will see us through until Easter but, right now we may barely cover the costs of this lockdown.
“What I really object to is many of the chain shops that weren’t open in the first lockdown are open now and a lot of them are saying “yes well now we’re stocking essential items” and of course they can keep selling their non-essential stock as well, many of which are the same good as small independent shops. They’re allowed to do that as normal and I’m not, that doesn’t seem quite right.
“It feels like, in this lockdown, we’re not all in it together and small businesses and hospitality are suffering because of it.”
Over the summer, many small business owners could apply for grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 to survive the long period of quarantine. However, during this lockdown, such businesses are only able to claim up to £2,000 and £3,000 to help with any costs
“It’s going to be really frustrating for some,” said Mollie Haines, Co-owner of The Mouse House Cheese Company on Steep Hill. “As a business, we were more prepared this time around, so we weren’t hit as bad as some.
“The main issue right now though is the difference money would make. If you go to one of the bigger shops and spend £20, they don’t care. But if you spend that £20 in a small retailer, that’s money the owner can use to pay rent or take their kids to school with.
“The smaller businesses have all been closed but I’m sure people like Amazon are rubbing their hands together thinking everybody’s going to buying their Christmas presents from them this year instead of going to the Christmas markets unfortunately.”
We approached several business groups to comment on this issue, such as Lincoln BIG, the Chamber of Commerce and Visit Lincoln but so far, they have made no reply.
For information and to apply for a grant you can visit www.lincoln.gov.uk/support