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Andrew Palmer
Business Editor
3:02 PM 9th December 2020
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53% Of People In Yorkshire And The Humber Pledge To Support Small Businesses This Christmas

photo by Tim Mossholder - Unsplash
photo by Tim Mossholder - Unsplash
More than half of people surveyed in Yorkshire and The Humber are keen to support small businesses this Christmas - as they worry their local shops could go bust, according to new research conducted by BT in the run up to the festive period.

The poll of 2,000 UK consumers found that 53 per cent of respondents in the region (58% UK) agree they are making a conscious effort to help small businesses more because of the severe impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on trading over the past year.
Shoppers keen to back their local high streets as they face the most turbulent winter in decades

53 per cent of people in Yorkshire and The Humber agree they are making more effort to support small businesses due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

Nearly 60 per cent of people in region fear their local shops won’t survive the pandemic

61 per cent of people in the region are increasingly worried about the impact on their community if they lose local shops

42 per cent of people in Yorkshire and The Humber agree the pandemic has made them reluctant to visit shops, stressing the need for small businesses to have an online presence

The plight of local shops appears to be weighing heavily on the public conscience, as 60 per cent of those polled in Yorkshire and The Humber fear their local high street won’t survive the pandemic. The poll found that 61 per cent of those in the region (66% UK) are increasingly worried about the impact on their community if they lose local shops, with 53 per cent (58% UK) agreeing that their community depends on local businesses. Coupled with the recent collapse of major retail chains, it’s clear the public are concerned about the future of their local high-street.

The affection the public holds for small businesses is strongly reflected in the survey results, with 43 per cent of respondents in Yorkshire and The Humber (48% UK) saying that small businesses play a key role in supporting local people; 40 per cent (45% UK) recognising the importance of small businesses in sustaining the economy; and 39 per cent (42% UK) saying that small businesses provide vital employment.

Fears of contracting Covid-19 appear to remain post the most recent lockdowns across the UK, with 42 per cent of people in Yorkshire and The Humber (51% UK) stating the pandemic has made them reluctant to visit shops. This reinforces the need for small businesses to have a strong online presence to help them survive the disruption of the pandemic.

Sarah Walker, BT director for corporate and public sector in the North of England, said: “Small businesses have undoubtedly been amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic, with national and local lockdowns severely impacting their ability to trade.

“It’s really heartening to see that communities across Yorkshire and The Humber are coming out in force to support their local high street this Christmas, as these firms rely heavily on the festive period to generate the lion’s share of their profits.

“The fact that consumers want to engage with small businesses, particularly online, but sometimes face barriers in doing so, means that it is absolutely vital for them to adapt by moving online or risk being left behind. That’s why we launched our Small Business Support Scheme – to boost the connectivity, cashflow and confidence of small businesses through faster broadband, digital payments and digital skills, amongst other forms of assistance.”

In addition, the survey has also revealed that small businesses are facing increasing competition from bigger online retailers who are able to offer lower prices and faster delivery. According to the survey, top reasons holding people back from supporting small businesses include; the price compared with other retailers – with a quarter of people in Yorkshire and the Humber (32% UK) citing it as a barrier; a limited product selection, with almost a quarter of respondents in the region saying it was a concern (22% UK); while no website presence was cited as a key concern by 14 per cent of people in Yorkshire and The Humber (16% UK). Other concerns include slow delivery, a lack of social media presence and data security issues.