Tony Davey, Chair of Stroud Chamber of Trade, has teamed up with the Stroud Times to provide regular updates on business life in the town and district.
Tony is a Consultant Technical Product Manager in the IT industry in addition being the Manager and Principal Balloon Decorator for Party On Up in Stroud.
The first week of extra restrictions being lifted has gone well for many of our local businesses, writes Tony Davey.
Hospitality, especially pubs, are reporting a good post-lockdown customer flow and (whilst substantial meals are no longer required) food sales are healthy too.
Of course, this only applies when there is available outside space and we look forward to welcoming back all hospitality businesses and accommodation as soon as safe to do so.
For retail, the return has been positive, steady, and responsible – which has been very welcome. Businesses that have been able to remain open have experienced much-needed improved footfall. Businesses reopening have largely reported a good return of customers and have welcomed many new faces too.
With the country in the grip of the pandemic, there are few positives to draw from the last 12 months; but one positive is that even more people than ever now understand the value of shopping local and supporting the local economy. Whilst undoubtedly there has been a rise in internet sales (including those from established local businesses rather than just a rise for eTailers) there is also an increase in customers who are turning to their local businesses and away from national chains and internet-only businesses.
In Stroud, we have bucked the trend and have seen more businesses opening on our high streets and upsizing too.
Predominantly, where there have been closures, they have been with national chains and not local independents. We also see growth, such as Loose upsizing from their Lansdown premises to the High Street in the coming weeks, Tomari-Gi expanding into George Street too, and recently the move of Harriets into The Five Valleys and becoming Medulla (to name just three).
Our local high streets need support, but our independent businesses are hardy and determined to succeed despite significant financial hits – in the Stroud District it is not as gloomy as the national picture shows.
The Stroud & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce has been working on a series of events to help enhance awareness of local high street businesses and have almost 2 months of activities starting, May 15.
This will also help to ensure we maintain a healthy level of business return past the initial post-lockdown peak. Bee Stroud (which is designed to be adopted across the whole of the Stroud District) will see shop window competitions, bee trails around town, offers and promotions, and some fun activities to participate in too. All themed around bees, it has a strong educational element – with bee facts to be found throughout.
The Bee Stroud event will also include the next Stroud Fiver Fest, running for a fortnight in June, with many businesses encouraging customers to get a great deal for just £5.
The events are designed to increase footfall and engagement responsibly. Businesses wishing to take part are urged to register at The Bee-eautiful Stroud Summer (visitstroud.uk)
The public can learn more at The Bee-eautiful Stroud Summer (visitstroud.uk) and to download the VisitStroud.uk App.