A campaign has just been launched urging residents to support hundreds of Hackney businesses during the second coronavirus lockdown.

Ham & High: Earlybird designs Christmas cards. Picture: Earlybird DesignsEarlybird designs Christmas cards. Picture: Earlybird Designs (Image: Earlybird Designs)

The Love Hackney, Shop Local campaign is bringing businesses and the council together to reassure residents that it is safe to shop in local high street shops, post offices and other essential service providers which remain open to the public.

The council initiative has also launched a free online Hackney business directory, called My Virtual Hackney, which features a wide variety of Hackey-based fashion, craft, electronics and homeware traders.

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy, said: “Hackney’s retail offer is second-to-none and caters for all budgets, styles, tastes and needs.

“We’re fortunate to have such a variety of quality businesses, literally on our doorsteps, so the time has come for us all to pull together as one community to support our local businesses and traders and make sure that when Covid-19 has passed we have a strong business community able to serve us into the future.”

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All non-essential shops are closed until December 2, when lockdown ends, but many retailers are still selling goods online or via click and collect.

Businesses can add themselves to the council’s directory, at no cost, and will be promoted to the borough’s 280,000 residents as a way of supporting and championing local businesses while their shops are shut.

Cllr Nicholson added: “The safety and wellbeing of residents as well as everyone working in our local businesses is of paramount importance and the council has visited hundreds of businesses to ensure they are Covid-secure to protect customers and staff, but it’s vital that residents who have to go out shopping continue to protect themselves by wearing a mask, washing their hands frequently and keeping a safe distance from others.”

Retail businesses have been dealt with significant business losses since the first lockdown in March and the additional four-week closure, which began on November 5, will likely add to the difficulties businesses already face.

The council’s own data from May revealed 28 per cent of retailers had been forced to make redundancies at the time with 81pc of retailers losing between 76pc and 100pc of their usual business income. The remaining 19pc had noted losses of between 50 and 75pc.

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In addition to the campaign, the council has distributed over £100m to businesses since March through business rates relief and grants.

The Love Hackney, Shop Local campaign will run over into 2021, aiming to promote pubs, bars, fitness and leisure-related businesses next.

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Heidi Early owns Earlybird Designs, a card and gift shop on Church Street in Stoke Newington and will be running her business online only during November.

She said: “We’ve had to close our shop for the second lockdown but we’re fortunate that we also sell lots of our fabulous cards, gifts and stocking fillers on our website – no one needs to miss out on doing their Christmas shopping with us. “It’s great to be part of ‘Love Hackney, Shop Local’ because it means more people in Hackney will discover our business even though our physical shop is closed.”

‘My Virtual Hackney’ business directory has been created in partnership with ‘My Virtual Neighbourhood’, a London-wide business directory created by Stoke Newington-based business, Local Buyers Club, during the first lockdown in March 2020.

Click here to find out more about the campaign and to find businesses in your neighbourhood.