Although COVID-19 has hit all of us hard, it’s probably fair to say that small businesses are struggling more than most. Lacking the cash needed to make quick changes to their business model, small businesses aren’t always able to adapt to new circumstances as quickly as their larger competitors. Without them, though, our high streets become a lot less vibrant and interesting.

Whether it’s through Christmas shopping or positive feedback, there are lots of things that you can do to help give your local businesses a boost this winter.

Christmas shopping

Probably the most effective way of helping small businesses is by actually spending money with them. When looking for presents online, it’s easy to default to the same two or three big name shopping sites. However most items can be sourced elsewhere – and you’ll often find something that’s more unique.

Even standard items such as books or DVDs can often be picked up from small businesses – and you might be surprised by the bargains you’ll find. If you’re worried about the cost of shipping, then consider popping in to a local store instead. You could even make a pact with friends or family to only support smaller businesses when shopping for each other this year. And don’t forget that local craft and gift shops are a great place to find unusual cards, wrapping paper and decorations.

Positive reviews

One of the things that can put some people off shopping with local businesses is fear of the unknown. People may be worried that they won’t get a good level of service, or that products won’t be what they say on the tin.

You can help to fight this fear: if you’ve had a good experience, tell the world. Whether that means posting a review on TrustPilot or sharing some of the brand’s social media posts, you can help to encourage others to shop local.

Choose gift cards

While buying gifts from small businesses is helpful, giving people gift cards to your favourite local shop might be even more effective. That’s because you’re helping to spread the word. The recipient of the gift card will now get to find out about the company, spend some time at their store or website, and potentially even become a repeat customer.

Obviously, it’s important to tailor these gifts carefully. Choose small businesses that either have a good website or are local to the recipient to avoid making the present more trouble than it’s worth. And if possible, try and align it with a hobby or something that you know they’re interested in.

Try something new

Supporting businesses isn’t just about shopping: it can also be about trips out. Next time you find yourself craving a hot drink to warm yourself up, consider a local café rather than a big-name coffee chain. Similarly, smaller pubs and restaurants are some of the hardest hit businesses, so consider booking in somewhere new if you’re planning a dinner out. Just remember to check that you’re following social distancing guidelines for your local area before going out.