'We will bounce back' - that's the message from Harborough's independent shops
'The overwhelming mood and feeling I’m getting from shopkeepers, retailers and business people in Market Harborough is positivity'
The dynamic entrepreneur who leads scores of vital independent shops in Market Harborough is vowing – we will bounce back.
Jarrod Burke, 24, said he’s positive the town’s high street will battle through the UK’s third national Covid lockdown as Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a new £4.6 billion emergency package for businesses battered by the pandemic.
“The overwhelming mood and feeling I’m getting from shopkeepers, retailers and business people in Market Harborough is positivity.
“People are optimistic on the whole that we will get through this – and we’ll come back from it.
“That doesn’t apply to all of us, obviously,” said Jarrod, chairman of the 70-strong Harbs Collective.
“Some people will be having difficult conversations over the next few days and weeks about what they do next as we go into yet another total coronavirus lockdown.
“But the Chancellor’s major announcement that businesses will be getting urgent additional Government help has come at just the right time for us.
“People will clearly feel much better and much more optimistic about the future if they know that their rents will be paid, their bills covered and their loyal staff furloughed.”
New one-off Treasury grants will be linked to business rates.
Some £4,000 will be forked out to businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or less, £6,000 to those with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 and £9,000 handed to companies with a rateable value of over £51,000.
About 600,000 businesses across Britain are set to receive the cash as another £594 million is to be ploughed into a ‘discretionary fund’ to support other struggling firms.
“Talking to fellow shopkeepers and retailers here in Market Harborough many feel that this is a great weight lifted off their shoulders.
“This additional financial help is a huge lifeline.
“The November lockdown wasn’t good and hit some hard as they relied on being busy in the run-up to Christmas,” said Jarrod, who owns the popular Randalls American sweet shop on Church Square.
“It’s hardly ideal to go back into another lockdown now – but at least January is a traditionally quiet time after Christmas and New Year.
“A lot of people I know are taking a couple of weeks off before starting out again.
“Don’t get me wrong.
“It’s been a very tough year on our high streets, especially for our hospitality sector with pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels hit.
“But the new Government grants will seriously help to keep businesses going in these extraordinary times,” said Jarrod.
“The Government, however, has got to get it right this time round.
“We’ve been battling this pandemic for almost a year – and it seems we are back to square one.
“We’d all rather that we are locked down longer this time and we finally start to crack it.
“Personally I’d even shut garden centres and I would ban click and collect.
“I’d be doing delivery only to cut the number of people leaving their homes and mixing with others.
“We have to keep people as safe as possible, stop the rocketing rate of infections and then get the maximum number of people vaccinated as soon as we can.
“None of us wants a fourth national crackdown further down the line if this massive nationwide effort fails – that would be catastrophic.
“But our shopkeepers and businesses in Market Harborough and throughout Harborough are brilliant.
“They are resilient, tenacious, determined and resourceful people.
“We also support and get behind each other 100 per cent.
“We are like the Three Musketeers – one for all and all for one.
“We aren’t any good without our fellow retailers,” insisted Jarrod, whose own shop has been working flat out to meet growing demand.
“So if the Government gets this right at last I’m very confident that our fantastic high street in Market Harborough will be back in time for the spring, the summer and the better weather.”