INDEPENDENT businesses fear they may go bust if the community does not shop locally this Christmas.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a major effect on local businesses, with countless going bust due to the financial strains felt since the initial outbreak in March.
Two national lockdowns have resulted in millions of Brits doing their festive shopping online rather than hitting the high street and looking for the perfect gifts in local firms.
Statistics show retail footfall in Southend has fallen by 42 per cent and 37 per cent across the entire county.
Jacqueline Johnson, managing director of the Westcliff-based Jacqson Diego Story Emporium, is certain independent businesses will go to the wall if there is little trade over the festive period.
She said: “Shops will definitely have to close in the New Year if they are not supported and people go to big chains or online.
“It’s been terrible to see numerous businesses already having to close because of the financial implications which have come with coronavirus.
“Local businesses build a community. If we stick together, as a community, we can get through this pandemic.”
Zoe Carver, of Leigh’s Jez Boutique, said: “It’s sad seeing businesses shut in recent months and the amount of customers in shops has fallen.
“People are still worried about coming to the shops. We are making a real effort to make people feel safe, but some still have concerns about going shopping because of the pandemic.”
Nicky Quinn, who owns Quinn’s of Thorpe Bay, has made changes to her business to ensure it does not go under.
Going digital – Nicky Quinn has set up a website, quinnsonline.co.uk, to maximise income at Quinn’s of Thorpe Bay
She said: “I created a website during the second lockdown to try ensure money could still come into the business.
“The pandemic has had a major impact on businesses like ours and I’m sure some will go to the wall. I’m confident we will be fine, though.”
Southend BID manager Suzanne Gloyne hopes the community will back independent businesses as Christmas nears.
She said: “Spending in our town rather than heading online will help keep companies in business and people in jobs.”