Tonight - Back In Business: The Road To Recovery?

Businesses are adapting to the ‘new normal'.

After the unprecedented double hit of coronavirus and lockdown, for our high streets, and for local businesses, things have probably never been more challenging. 

The country has been plunged into the largest recession on record, and many businesses have been forced to shut. Some will never reopen, while others - like Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and Debenhams, have cut thousands of jobs to try to survive.

But despite the uncertainty many companies are determined to get back on their feet - and in tonight’s episode, reporter Adam Shaw has been speaking to businesses who are adapting to the ‘new normal’ to try to thrive despite the pandemic.

Job losses

Across the country, almost three-quarters of a million jobs have been lost since the start of the pandemic in March.

And the hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit: trade body UKHospitality has estimated that  the sector could lose £73bn and more than 300,000 jobs this year - especially when the furlough scheme comes to an end.

Covid unemployment - young people are thought to be amongst the worst affected

The programme features young couple Dani and Mike, who both lost their jobs in hospitality in July. They were forced to move in with Mike’s brother to save on rent, and have spent the last few months retraining and applying for jobs in a very competitive climate. But will they find new work?

Boom in online sales

Sadly, layoffs have hit many companies, and the UK’s economy plunged by over 20% from April to June - worse than any other G7 or EU nation. But one area that’s seen huge growth is online sales, with people spending nearly £1b more in June, than they did in February.

One of the ways for the high street to retain shoppers is by harnessing this aptitude for online shopping. Adam Shaw met Nick Brackenbury from tech company NearSt, which helps to connect online shoppers with their local high streets. 

One of their clients, Brick Lane Bookshop, has found this has helped to bring new shoppers into their store. 

Excluded from support?

Some businesses say they haven’t received any government support - and that as a result they say they are struggling.

Beautician and mum of two Kim Kingston started The Beauty Shed from her home in Southsea, Portsmouth, nine years ago. 

Tragically, Kim’s husband David died of a brain tumour in 2018. But he’d left her a pension pot  - and last year she was able to transform her studio in his memory. However, like many, when the pandemic took hold, she had to shut the business. 

Kim says she was excluded from any government financial help

She thought she’d get support from the government … but as David’s pension payout had formed the majority of her income last year, she says she was excluded from the self employed grant scheme. And she had already used most of the money to upgrade her studio. 

She says that with no help and no work for months, she has lost thousands of pounds’ worth of income. 

Rachel Flower is a business coach who set up ExcludedUK - which campaigns for people like Kim, who say they’ve been completely left out of government support schemes.

She says that an estimated three million taxpayers have not received any financial support from the government, and that many people she represents were already on low incomes before the outbreak. She says that many have been plunged into poverty. 


You can watch 'Back in Business: The Road To Recovery?' on ITV tonight (Thursday 20th August) at 7:30pm.