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🚽 Small Businesses & the Coronavirus: How many toilet rolls do you have? 💩

Jessica Robinson

Thanks to the coronavirus: are we dealing with another imminent recession? Why are people ACTUALLY panic buying toilet roll? And what's the deal with the Government giving small businesses a cash injection of £3,000? This week's Squiffy Blog focuses on the impact this pandemic will have on the economy.....

I popped into Lidl last Friday for some bits - milk, bread, olives (the essentials). I randomly noticed the lack of toilet roll, but thought nowt of it. Until I realised people had been panic buying it, wtf?? 

My other half showed me a video last night of three women fighting, yes actually FIGHTING over toilets rolls in supermarket in Australia. What’s the psychology behind why toilet paper, of all things, is being panic bought? Even an Australian newspaper went so far as printing eight extra pages in a recent edition for ‘emergency toilet paper' should Aussies run out (wtaf??)

The unknown is always scary: coronavirus is a new thing and there's still a lot to learn about it. It seems really weird to me that kids don’t get it, but the elderly do, and the fact that so many people were ill at Christmas - do you think we’ve all had it already and nobody noticed? 

There has been a lack of clear directions from officials. Stocking up on household supplies & toilet roll maybe some peoples way of preparing (for what they think) will be imposed quarantine like other countries.

Seeing people panic, makes people panic. There’s a lot of blame being thrown at the media & news coverage for this. However, social media is also novel for fear-mongering, and with it being so easily accessible, misinformation spreads quicker than, well, the virus itself. It’s natural to want to over-prepare if you think you will be housebound for a long period of time and you see online viral videos of others panic buying or the pictures of empty shelves in the supermarket. 

If you are slightly concerned about toilet roll though, and would prefer it delivered to your door, then Who Gives a Crap can sort you out!)

But what is the economic fallout from the coronavirus? 

Lack of customers = lack of sales = lack of food on the table and less money in the pot to cover costs. The New York Times reported 'As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, the world’s biggest companies have begun painting a bleak picture of broken supply chains, disrupted manufacturing, empty stores and flagging demand for their wares.’ 

The UK government’s swift response to help boost the economy was outlined by Rishi Sunak in the budget (dubbed the ‘coronavirus budget) this week, stating there is £30bn in the pot to help protect the UK economy against the negative impact of the virus outbreak. This is the first budget since the general election and the original government spending plans have had to be re-written in the wake of the virus spreading across the UK.

Why is it important to look after the Small Businesses?

Small/medium Enterprises (SMEs) make up over 99% of UK businesses and account for three fifths of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector. Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy (you'll have heard me say that on various occasions! What can I say? I'm part of that backbone!)

Paul Galligan, chief executive of Bionic, said: “The temporary abolishment of business rates for specific sectors and a £3,000 cash injection for small businesses across the country (who don't pay business rates) will create a much-needed safety net for hard-working SMEs up and down the country.' 

However, it will remain to be seen how quickly businesses can access the cash injection and be repaid having claimed compensation for sick pay. It is vital that these government offerings are swift. But overall, SMEs needed a turbo-charged response to the crisis and it looks like they’ve got it. 

How can you help? 

Just buy some stuff, it’s that simple. Cash flow is important for SMEs, because it later becomes the payment for things that make their business run. Expenses like stock or raw materials, employees, rent and other operating expenses all need paying for. Second to that would be to interact on their social media, help boost their profile to new customers who might purchase their services or products too. And the latter is free. 

Are you a small business and need some advice? The website is jammed packed with everything from the budget news to guides to podcasts and more on running a small business in the UK. 

See you next week, 

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