Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart, along with South West Holderness Ward Councillors John Dennis, Sue Steel and David Winter, recently visited local businesses in Hedon town centre to pay tribute to their owners in the run-up to Christmas.
The whistle-stop tour came as part of Small Business Saturday, which encourages the British public to shop local to support and celebrate independent businesses on the high street. Last year, £1.1 billion was spent of the day with 15.4 million people across the country choosing to shop small.
Among the shops visited by the local MP and ward councillors were Hedon Green Print on Market Place; Bella & Bertie’s pet shop, Boo Boo’s Boutique and East Riding Pharmacy on St Augustine’s Gate; and Liliah Grace Jewellery on Watmoughs Arcade.
Owners of the shops reported that while no longer forced to close, the lasting impact of COVID has meant that footfall has continued to dwindle with many people preferring to shop online in order to reduce the risk of coming into close contact with others.
Graham commented, “While I certainly understand why some might prefer to shop online given the pandemic, with vaccines providing a high level of protection against the worst effects of Covid-19, I’d encourage those who feel comfortable to get out and shop local if they can, particularly in the run up to Christmas.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the country’s economy, supporting local jobs and vibrant town centres where people can meet their friends and family.
“After the challenges of the last two years, I can’t praise small business owners enough for their resilience and spirit, and I’d like to thank them for taking the time to speak to me about how they’ve overcome the many issues they’ve been faced with.”
To help businesses cope with long periods of closure, the Government provided over £100 billion in business grants and loans, part of an economic package of over £407 billion including other measures like the furlough and self-employment support schemes.
Tax cuts were also brought in, including a cut in VAT to 12.5% until the end of March next year, and business rates have been cut by half next year for 90% of businesses.
Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, added: “We all know the impact that Covid-19 has had on our small businesses, and we have all been humbled by the resilience, resolve and determination