Shop Local: Independent traders ‘fight for survival’ in Maida Vale and St John’s Wood
- Credit: Archant
Three-quarters of independent shops in St John’s Wood say they fear for their future in the high street.
More than half of the businesses interviewed in Maida Vale and St John’s Wood said they would have to close if footfall did not pick up and current Covid-19 measures continue without financial support.
The stark warning was made at the launch of the Ham&High’s Shop Local campaign, which is encouraging residents to support independent traders ahead of Christmas.
Sabeer Bux, the owner of Pereira newsagent, said his business was down 60 per cent on the same period last year.
“If the current situation keeps going on for the next few months we’ll be out of business by March,” Sabeer told the Ham&High.
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James Vanger, the owner of Square One clothes shop, which has been in the high street for 50 years, said custom had dropped between 50-75 pc, leading to the closure of their menswear store in June.
“We’re not sure we’ve got a future,” he told this newspaper. “We are an independent fighting for survival and we need the support of the area so that people shop locally.
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“Even if it’s a small present or gift, residents need to support local businesses because otherwise they will die and be replaced by faceless conglomerates.”
In St John’s Wood High Street, shops attributed the current, challenging climate to the increased uncertainty of shoppers; a lack of clarity around the government’s rules; the road’s new one-way traffic system, and an inability to access financial grants due to their shops’ rateable values.
However Kevin Kilkenny, the owner of Kent & Sons butcher, said his business was “about the same” as last year and that his team would “carry on” and “get on with it”.
“We have felt that people appreciate us and that’s a good thing,” Kevin said.
In Maida Vale, Mozhy Chipperfield, who runs Elgin Blooms florist, said she would only last until spring if business didn’t pick up.
She said: “Independent shops give flavour to our community. Otherwise, what are we all going to do? Sit in front of a blue screen?
“It’s something different to do during the day - pop into the flower shop, talk about a plant.
“I’ve got older ladies who come here just for a chat. It gives them a sense of community and makes them feel like they’re not alone.”
Mozhy added: “I’m definitely worried about the future of our business because if we have to go into another lockdown I’m not sure we’ll survive.”
As part of the Ham&High’s Shop Local campaign, we’ll be highlighting the indispensable work of our independent traders. If you want to highlight a local business or tell us how things have been for you - get in touch at Michael.Boniface@archant.co.uk.