Local Businesses in Ayr concerned for their Future amid Coronavirus outbreak

By Gordon McColm

Local Businesses face difficult decisions as the lock down was confirmed last night. Some have begun to migrate some of their business online, but for others they’ve had to close completely.

Grants announced by the Government have only just opened for applications. That means that some businesses have an anxious wait for support and are spending potentially more than a month with no income.

Unboxed Café has only been around for a few years and the fledgling business has spent the last week adapting to the changing situation. They shut the café last week and have been spending the time since trying to convert some of their business online. That’s included wrestling with an online booking system and the virtual tabletop website Roll20 to make events work remotely. They also launched an online shop through their social media so they’d still be able to sell games to the local community.

Unboxed post announcing their online store (taken from Facebook on 24/03/2020)

The announcement of the lock-down has only complicated matters for them. Plans to deliver board games bought or loaned are being considered and they’ve been left to decide if whether they want to risk either their health or their business.

If we stop delivering games or if we stop the library service that’s two thirds of our income

Ross Bingham, on the financial pressure facing his business

At 27Alloway, a florist in the village south of Ayr, the decision taken to close the business this week was slightly easier. Most suppliers have shut down following the tightening of border controls. She’s focused on making sure that her employees will still have a job when the measures ease.

The important bit for us now is how to access government funds to make sure we have a viable business at the end of this and jobs for our staff to come back to,

Linda Singh, on the next steps for her business

Councillor Alec Clark called for clearer lines of communications for small business to help them survive. He suggested devolving some power down to local authorities, he believes they will be more successful than central government at keeping in touch with their local economies.

The next few months are undoubtedly going to hit small businesses hard. For some the support the government is able to give may not be enough.

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