Unlike many other towns and cities across the UK, Norwich is blessed with thousands of independent businesses which until the outbreak of Covid-19 were all doing rather well. Over 600 of these businesses are based in the Lanes and have year on year bucked the national trend with exceptional sales figures even against the threat of the internet and the ever evasive adverts that pop up without request onto our screens. But this is not just about the shops. The Lanes have what every homogenized high street and shopping mall is trying to buy in and replicate. The Lanes has ‘experience’ and plenty of it. Take a quick stroll and in between the shops and boutiques you’ll find restaurants and cafes, galleries and bars plus an award-winning art centre, an independent cinema and a community theatre too. Each and every single of these thrives off one another and help drive the local economy which in turn keeps a great deal of the profit circulating within.
So now we’re talking about the money, let’s take a quick look at the maths. The fact is that for every £1 spent with an independent business, between 50-70p circulates back into the local economy. On the other hand, chainstores, supermarkets and national brands return just 5p in the pound. That means, in short, if you buy local and shop independent, the majority of your hard-earned cash will remain in the city that you live in and love. It really is as simple as that.
But what about jobs I hear you say? Statistics state at the start of 2020 there were 5.94 million small businesses in the UK who employed a remarkable 16.8 million people and delivered a turnover of £1.6 trillion. Put another way – SMEs account for three fifths of employment and around half of the turnover in the UK. Of course those figures will have dropped significantly during this tiring pandemic but they do go to show how important small businesses are and what they bring to the table.
Now I’m going to get all sentimental on you. Imagine this city with no Norwich Lanes, no Norwich Market or Magdalen Street. A place with boarded up shops apart from the bookies and soulless national brands that just don’t fit. That’s what many other places have and it’s hard to recover from. It drops the aspirations and opportunities of those who live and work there, not to mention the quality of life. So as a city and a county we simply cannot afford to let that happen. In recent years, we have significantly overtaken Cambridge in visitor numbers and it’s our heritage and our independent nature that has taken us there. So let’s hold our collective nerve, shop local, spend with the independents and do all we can to keep this city fine.
This place is special – so very special. Support your independents and help keep it that way.
Now where to start? www.norwichlanes.co.uk
About the Author
Head of marketing at the Norwich Lanes.