TODAY the Worcester News launches a campaign to support local businesses to help them recover from the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.

Supported by Worcester MP Robin Walker and Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, our Love Local Business campaign encourages our readers to back our traders by spending their money with them.

Many of these businesses are re-opening this Monday, June 15, after more than two months of being closed, while others such as hairdressers and pubs won’t be able to trade again until July. For those businesses that have been able to remain open during the lockdown, many have seen a significant loss in income.

Worcester News editor Michael Purton said: “This is a crucial time for local businesses as they try to recover from the impact of the lockdown which, for many, has seen them without any income for more than two months. In this area, we are fortunate to have so many great local, independent businesses and we need our community to support them now to make sure we don’t lose them.

“In the coming months we will be promoting these businesses in our newspaper, on our website and our social media channels, to help spread the message that they are open and highlight why they are so valuable to this community. I urge all of our readers to show that they love local business by supporting them.”

MP Mr Walker said: “Worcester’s independent businesses are a crucial part of what makes our city special and I know that the Covid-19 crisis has been a huge strain on so many of them. Just before this crisis hit I was celebrating local shops through my own Independent Business Awards and I was pleased to celebrate the work of a variety of special people and places from chip-shops to jewellers to traditional toy shops.

“As life begins to return to some degree of normality it is more important than ever that we back local businesses and get out there and support them. Whether we are talking about local pubs which can play such a role at the heart of communities and do so much to raise money for good causes or independent shops and restaurants, they all make Worcester a better place to be.

“Government has provided some vital support through the furlough scheme and business rates grants which have kept many businesses on life support through the period of lockdown. Now as we begin to focus on the recovery, local businesses will be re-opening and will need the support and custom of people in Worcester all the more.

“I am looking forward to playing my part through working on Worcester’s Town Deal and supporting our future high streets fund bid as well as continuing to support businesses in Parliament.

“One of the great joys of representing Worcester over the last 10 years has been to see the variety of exciting businesses in our city and to see so many of them grow and thrive, creating more opportunities for young people and a stronger offer for local residents.

“The whole economy has taken a hit from the coronavirus but now is a great time to really back those businesses so that they can play a role in the future of our city.”

Crowngate Shopping Centre is also supporting our campaign, and is among those local businesses impacted by the lockdown.

Speaking about many of the centre’s shops re-opening on Monday, centre manager Michael Lloyd said customers can help by abiding by any queuing systems, being positive and polite to staff and other customers. They can also help by using social media to spread good messages of support and thanks to anyone in shops that have helped them, buy from independents and be prepared for the fact that most retailers will only use contactless payments.

He said of the impact of the virus: “It has changed the way that we live in almost every aspect but has given us an insight into what we need to do in retail bricks and mortar – I believe that the online shopping has been great during lockdown, but ultimately people have had a taste of what it would be like to have no physical presence and not everyone has enjoyed it. This is where we now need to capitalise on that.”

He added: “It is all about the customers returning and feeling confident and safe to do so. The team at Crowngate have worked with the retailers and businesses to ensure all risk assessments and paperwork is completed and that they have safe systems of work in place so that customers who walk into the business are 100 per cent confident about their safety.

“The health and wellbeing of our employees, customers and visitors remains our first priority and we’re working closely with all those on site to ensure they can operate safely, and in line with public health advice. This includes introducing additional signage, cleaning and hygiene measures on site and asking visitors to comply with social distancing rule at all times.”

Shoppers are encouraged to use cars (ample parking) and bike stands. Managers are also keen to point out some of the unique features Worcester offers.

Mr Lloyd said: “Worcester offers retail and leisure, the countryside, the River Severn, and Worcester is proudly made up of 65 per cent independent businesses.

“Our food shops and restaurants remain closed, with the exception of Anatolian Palace who are offering a takeaway services only. It is not yet known when they will be able to fully re-open to guests and offer eat-in dining, but this will be in line with the latest government advice. At present toilets will remain closed with the exception of the toilet in the bus station and the car park at Crowngate is open.”

Visit for a list of stores currently open and check for opening hours.

The love Local Business campaign is also sponsored by Visit Worcester and Tom Cook Carpets.

Worcester News sales director, Dale Godliman said: “I am delighted that we are running a sustained campaign outlining the importance of using local business, at what is a crucial time for so many SMEs.

“We reach a huge percentage of the local population across our well-established regional brands and, through a combination of combining our loyal print publications, record online audiences and market leading engagement via our social media channels, we are really confident that we can be the marketing partner of choice for local businesses during this crucial period.

“We are really banging the drum for local businesses from all sectors including retail, hospitality and leisure and encouraging our loyal readership to show their support by shopping local.

“Any business which wants to be featured in our campaign should get in touch on 01905 742372 or and we will be more than happy to provide further details.”