Ahead of this weekend’s seventh annual Small Business Saturday today’s guest blog comes from Simon Dicken, Chair of Bedminster Business Improvement District.
Since 2013 Bedminster BID has been working closely with local businesses to further develop the economic viability of Bedminster, by championing the area, its businesses and residents. An estimated £812m was spent in small businesses across the UK on the corresponding day last year and the day is important in supporting small businesses which are a vibrant part of our city against the backdrop of a challenging time for the high street.
As many people’s minds at this time of year turn to preparing for Christmas, from presents to the food, I believe this is the perfect opportunity to consider our high streets and small businesses up and down the country.
As we move together as a generation towards sustainability and increased environmental awareness, I am certain our high streets and local shopping areas are going to be a pivotal part of our future. What can be better than a place where we can walk to and support local people who have either taken the brave step of going it alone or maintaining, in many cases, a family legacy.
Most of these businesses directly on our doorsteps source locally, live locally and employ- locally.
As chairman of the Bedminster Business Improvement District (BID) we have seen many changes over the last seven years with new businesses appearing across the area catering for the needs of the community they serve. This is one of the fantastic opportunities open to the small business owners who are able to adapt virtually overnight to trends in customer habits which, with the rise of social media, alter in a fast and unprecedented way than ever before.
We have seen over the last few years many larger businesses fail by not being able to adapt to the retail landscape quickly enough. The loss of these larger businesses and the subsequent job losses and vacant units have been hard on our local economies but I feel this is part of the commercial evolution in our country and opens doors for individuals and co-operatives to move into the gaps left behind.
Out of town and larger shopping centres give us a convenient and consistent offer, which certainly has its place for us all; but caution must be made on not losing the beating heart of the high streets across the land that provide not only a more sustainable shopping mission but for many of the elderly and vulnerable of society a safe place to come and engage socially.
I am sure you would agree that we don’t want to live in a future where we have lost our local shops and are all reliant on cars to get our goods while parts of the community sit in isolation.
So I appeal to shoppers and policy makers alike to support their high streets and the businesses that rely on them to overcome these current challenges and changes to ensure we have them today, tomorrow and forever.