How to support your local businesses during the coronavirus pandemic

Social-distancing is the name of the game right now, and it is essential we all do this in order to slow the spread of Covid-19. However, as much as we want to stop coronavirus, in doing so we don't want to destroy our small businesses. The current second lock-down of Melbourne is without a doubt going to affect us all, but particularly those businesses that have already bore the brunt of the first lock-down. Governments around the world have taken drastic measures to slow the spread of coronavirus. Many businesses have been given two options - either close your doors or remain open following strict legal requirements. Businesses such as gyms and recreation centres have been forced to close for the second time, restaurants back to only operable serving take-away, retail remaining open but only allowing a limited number of customers inside the shop at any one time. With the government telling everyone to STAY HOME and only leave the house for food, work or education, it is not surprising that most retailers will now have no option but to shut their doors. No customers, no money, no business. We are all aware that these strict measures are to ensure we slow the coronavirus and keep our health system afloat, with the ultimate goal of keeping everyone safe. However, what we also all know is that this is having an alarming impact on our economy and our small business sector. The impact of these measures once again is truly devastating. 

Over the last four months I have heard many people say "we are all in this together" and that "everyone will be impacted in some way", and while I believe this is very true, I know we are all affected in different ways and to varying degrees. An unprecedented number of independent businesses, particularly those in the infancy stage of their entrepreneurial journey, are being forced to close their doors and with some closing permanently. Social distancing measures have meant that our dollars are not reaching the businesses that really need it. We are not using our gym membership nor are we going to our local bookstore on a Sunday and we are definitely not getting that beloved smashed avo on toast from the cafe that just opened down the road.

So, how do we support our local businesses when we are unable to use their services at the present time? I have 6 ways you can help our small businesses during this pandemic and our second lock-down. 


1. Buy a gift card

Investing in a future meal or experience will give the business something to work with in the interim. Call your favourite restaurant and find out if you can purchase a voucher or gift card. If you are a keen movie goer (like myself), get online and check out your local cinema for gift cards and vouchers. A gold class experience is always a good present for your in-laws or a date night with your significant other when restrictions are lifted. 

2. Shop locally and locally online

Shopping locally or online (locally), not only helps the local business but also the employment of local people. Spending your money locally means more of your money will stay in your area, which will encourage the health and sustainability of your community. It will also foster stronger relationships with your community members, encouraging loyalty and positively influence mental health.

3. Order take away food and drink

This is an easy one. If you are craving something from your favourite restaurant or you're keen for a glass of Shiraz (OK realistically a bottle!) order from your local restaurant or bottle-shop. Ordering takeaway food or drink is easy with online services, restaurants developing their own apps or using takeaway services such as Uber Eats or Doordash. Always give your restaurant a call first to see if they have their own app or order over the phone - this ensures the business will receive the entire profit from your order.



4. Leave the business a good review

In the age of Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, Timeout - the list could go on, it is pretty important we give businesses a good review when they deserve one. Smart phones have allowed instant accessibility and we are able to find out the public's view on a business with the click of a button. Reviews are an exceptionally powerful tool with many people turning to the internet's opinion on whether they should dine at a particular restaurant, shop at a specific shop, or whether or not to use a particular real estate agent! The power of a review makes it vital that all reviews are honest and constructive. Of course, there will always be those negative fake reviews (sometimes from competitive businesses - they are always fairly obvious!) but the power of the good reviews is what is going to help businesses, particularly during this time. If you love a restaurant, shop or any other business - get on google and give them a 5-star review!

5. Follow the business on social media

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with your local businesses and show your support. Many businesses use social media as a platform to share what they are doing, how they are adapting and ultimately to keep active and know to their customers and database. As a loyal customer, get on your Instagram or Facebook and start following! When you go to a cafe or shop why not tag them in it, it shows you are supporting them and also indirectly helps their business reach more potential clients. 

6. Take online classes

Missing your regular exercise class? Keen to retrain or up-skill during this pandemic? Ever wanted to learn Italian or maybe just learn how to cook Italian food? Many businesses have adapted and now provide online classes. Taking an online class during this pandemic is not only a great way to keep your mind active whilst isolating, but it is also going to really help the business during this challenging time.