Sponsored by American Express Merchant Services
After the Covid pandemic and the accelerated switch to online shopping, there’s plenty of doom and gloom about the prospects for the UK high street.
But recent research paints a rosier picture, especially for small businesses. According to figures from the Local Data Company, the number of independent retail businesses on the UK’s high streets increased for the first time in five years in 2021.
That adds to a survey from Barclays Corporate Banking, which found that local high streets could see 17,000 new openings as consumers rediscover the unique delights of local shopping.
Is this just a temporary reprieve for the country’s small retailers, based on a pent-up desire for human contact and savings accumulated over the pandemic?
After all, we shouldn’t forget that this research was conducted before the worst impacts of the cost of living crisis.
But there are longer term trends that work in favour of the small businesses that bring such life and colour to our high streets.
The widespread adoption of semi-remote ‘hybrid’ work is chief among them. The more time we all spend at home, the more local services we use.
Coffee shops have become alternative work and meeting spaces for a new army of remote employees. Corner shops and newsagents are doing a brisk trade in home office supplies. Empty premises are being repurposed as coworking spaces.
On top of that, the pandemic made us think a bit harder about our communities and the sense of connection they bring, and small businesses – from chemists and pubs to mechanics and dry cleaners – are a valuable part of that.
Championing small business
In other words, many consumers are in the mood to look again at the small businesses that are the lifeblood of local communities.
One company that has continued to support small businesses is American Express. Now in its 10th year the Shop Small campaign is an effort to further encourage consumers to rediscover valuable local businesses and the next campaign is just around the corner.
During the next Shop Small campaign, which runs in June, American Express Cardmembers who spend £15 or more in a single in-store transaction get £5 back in statement credit. That’s good for shoppers, and great for small businesses. The offer is fully funded by American Express, so there’s no cost to merchants.
How to sign up for Shop Small
To participate in Shop Small, small businesses only need to be able to accept American Express payments. That’s simple to arrange, and there are no setup costs or monthly fees. If you don’t accept Amex already, you’ll need to sign up by latest 25 May to take part in this Shop Small campaign. Other eligibility criteria apply which can be found on the Amex website.
In return, merchants get access to a range of benefits that go well beyond the basics of the Shop Small campaign, like access to high spending cardmembers (American Express users typically spend three times more than other card holders). In addition, your business is promoted via the Amex app and map, and you’ll receive free branded Shop Small and Amex signage material.
There’s much more but suffice to say that Shop Small could provide a real boost for many small businesses, just when they need it most.
We don’t want to sugarcoat the current situation on the UK’s high streets. We know times are tough. But there’s also a determination to make the most of new opportunities and to attract customers in creative ways, and small businesses are leading the charge. Shop Small is part of that effort. If you’re a small business, there’s nothing to lose and much to gain.
|Are you missing out the benefits of accepting American Express® Card payments? As part of their Merchant network, you’ll benefit from: