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The local UK high street in times of COVID-19

We tell the stories of how the local high street businesses we all know are navigating through this extraordinary crisis.

1 minute read. This article is part of the Human Signals series

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How will local, high street SMEs adapt and survive?

In the latest edition of EY Seren’s Human Signals series, we reflect on the impact of coronavirus on local, high street SMEs and consider the implications and effects of the pandemic on the small business owners who have dealt with it at the coalface.

The local high street has been the epicentre of British culture since its emergence in the 1870s, serving not only communities’ material needs but also providing space for socialising and leisure.

But, during the coronavirus pandemic, small, high street businesses have been restrained by physical restrictions and many have struggled to pivot online, with no dedicated support for e-commerce, social media or digital marketing.

Ever-changing, the high street is once more facing an existential threat and will emerge from the economic aftershock of the pandemic looking very different.

In our report we combine quantitative data with ethnographic diary studies to gain valuable insight into the life of local SME owners and the challenges they have experienced.

We make recommendations on how small business owners can be supported, to minimise the risks they face, the impact on their livelihoods, and to come out stronger.

Get the report