Shop Out to Help Out proposal backed by Portsmouth's independent traders
LOCAL traders have backed a proposed Shop Out to Help Out scheme to help struggling businesses survive as lockdown measures start to ease.
The Save the Street campaign group initiative would see customers receive a 50 per cent reduction on the cost of goods for the first £10 spent in local independent shops.
The scheme, which is backed by retail expert Mary Portas and beauty entrepreneur Charlotte Tilbury, would run from Monday to Wednesday for the first month after shops reopen on April 12.
Owner of Bored of Southsea skate shop, Ian Elstone, said: ‘It certainly sounds like a good idea in principle and would be much appreciated by small businesses to help get the high streets going again. We have done okay with our click and collect but I know some shops have not.
‘A lot of people may have got into the habit of shopping online but it’s good to be able to see customers in person, provide advice and for them to try on clothes and get a feel for a product.’
Chair of Albert Road Traders Association, Jenni Catlow, who also owns Tango Tea Collectables, added: ‘I think this would be a good idea. While some businesses have been able to run a click and collect service others have had to close completely.
‘It has been a real struggle for many of our shops - particularly this second lockdown – and any support would be welcome.’
The proposed scheme would see funding for the subsidy generated from a sales tax levied on the profits of giant web retailers such as Amazon as well as the redistribution of £1.8bn in business rates relief, which have been returned by supermarkets who have profited during the pandemic.
Marmion Road jewellery designer Charlotte Cornelius said: ‘This is an interesting idea and I do think it would be a good gesture if those large companies who have profited during the pandemic could do something to support local businesses and shops.
‘Any additional help would be great, but Southsea businesses have a lot of local support and I’m confident there will be a rush of people wanting to shop in person once shops are able to reopen.
‘Some items such as clothing and jewellery are tactile products which customers want to feel.’
The News and its sister papers launched the Support Local campaign last year to highlight independent stores on high streets.
The proposal has the support of Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for economic development, Steve Pitt.
Cllr Pitt said: ‘This is a well thought out scheme which would have my full support. There are concerns that people’s shopping habits may have changed and independent traders will be grateful for any initiative which helps to get shoppers through the door.’
However, with non essential shops set to reopen in two weeks time, Cllr Pitt had a stark warning about the extent of the potential economic impact of the pandemic on the city’s small businesses.
He added: ‘Many of these independent traders run on a small profit margin and we don’t yet know how many will have survived and be able to reopen.’