Leicestershire small businesses fear tighter Covid-19 restrictions could ruin them

By Adam Dutton

A number of small businesses in the Leicestershire area are worried about the effects that stricter Covid-19 restrictions could have on their trade.

The introduction of the government’s new tier system and the announcement of more cities being added to the higher tier, has sparked fresh worries for local business owners in Leicester. 

Leicester is already one tier away from the heaviest restrictions and already enduring a local lockdown.

Cyan Mapp, owner of Pink Fox dog training, based in Loughborough, said: “I had no income whatsoever for three months in the lockdown. I had all my usual outgoings that were expected of me, like rent, fuel and insurance. 

“The current Covid restrictions that have come in means I can still only have up to five handlers in a group session and if anyone tests positive then I’m out of work for two weeks.

“I don’t want a second lockdown. Businesses like mine would struggle.”

Hayley Longstaff, 48, owner of Old Parsonage Kennels, based in Loughborough, said: “The virus has been catastrophic for our business. We had 100 per cent cancellations from the end of March until September.

“We live off the money we make during the summer season, but with people cancelling holidays, we have had no summer season. It’s going to be a tough winter.

“Any further restrictions would possibly force us to close completely.”

However, not all small businesses have struggled through lockdown.

Online sales as a percentage of total retail sales naturally saw a huge increase on the previous year, 18.8 per cent in May 2019 compared to 32.8 per cent May 2020.

Online sellers have thrived through the number of people using online stores as an alternative to purchase goods.

Sites such as Etsy and eBay are making it easier for small, local businesses to sell their goods to more people and from further away.

Stuart Robinson, co-owner of Etsy shop Whippet Up Design, said: “My wife and I run an Etsy shop and Covid has actually helped to increase our profits by more than 200 per cent this year, despite being closed for the first few months of lockdown.

“I believe many Etsy sellers have benefitted in a similar way as people’s shopping habits have been forced to change.

“I think a second lockdown would probably lead to a very busy Christmas for us as people would have to buy online. 

“However, we’re more interested in the health and wellbeing of the public over any financial gain.”

As it stands, Leicester and Leicestershire have not been put into the most severe stage of local lockdown.