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According to new data from ShopAppy, which connects consumers to their local high streets via its platform underpinned by NatWest and Visa, it has seen a three-fold rise in the number of shoppers and small, local businesses using its e-commerce portal. More than 340,000 consumers now use ShopAppy to buy from local businesses in their respective towns and cities.

This underlines the rising online presence of family-run and local businesses that have previously relied solely on footfall for their pre-pandemic revenues.

These figures have been supported by an additional nationwide survey by NatWest, which found that consumer spending with the UK’s suburban retailers was up by almost a third (30%) year-on-year.

The study, carried out in September, revealed that small local retailers in smaller British towns and cities are demonstrating agility on a nationwide scale to survive the COVID-19 crisis.

Andrew Harrison, head of business banking, NatWest, said: “As the UK’s number one bank for business, it’s really encouraging for us to see small, local businesses seeing considerable growth on platforms like ShopAppy during the pandemic.

“That increased presence is a testament to the agility and innovative nature of UK SMEs and we want to help more small businesses use services like ShopAppy to reach more customers, regardless of the ongoing uncertainty of many sectors.”

Andrew Goodacre, CEO, British Independent Retailers’ Association (BIRA), also noted the number of pivoting local businesses ramping up their social media marketing activity, accepting e-commerce payments and running click and collect services.

Goodacre and the BIRA have recently proposed a nationwide local shop site, overseen by the BIRA, to “enable retailers to effectively sell online to their local markets, not for huge amounts of profit”.

Research by Visa for the BIRA would suggest there is an appetite for such a portal, given that 60% of shoppers have been concerned about the future of local independent businesses. Meanwhile 80% said they were buying locally as much as or more than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Last updated: 14th January 2021

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