Free tote bags for Lewisham shoppers aim to kickstart high street after lockdown

Lewisham has the highest percentage of micro businesses in London (and of all UK boroughs).

Shoppers in Lewisham are being given free tote bags in a bid to encourage them to shop locally after a year of lockdowns.

The project, funded by Lewisham council to support local businesses as restrictions ease, will extend COVID-19 business grants and continue the ‘Shop Safe, Shop Local’ incentive by giving out free exclusive tote bags to shoppers who choose small local businesses over big name brands.

Paula Segre, Lewisham Local Business Coordinator, said: “With the high street coming back to life, Lewisham Local businesses have shown great adaptability, and we urge shoppers to do the same. It is a time when thinking about where and how we shop is not only a responsibility, but a necessity. Shopping local is the easiest and most effective way to allow our communities to flourish in a variety of ways; culturally, economically and even psychologically.”

The devastating financial impact of COVID has left the future of many local businesses on uncertain grounds as they have been forced to rely on grants from their local councils, which even then often isn’t enough. An FSB survey found that more than 250,000 small businesses in the UK are at risk of collapse without further financial help from the government due to the damage caused by the coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions.

Research from the Local Data Company found that in 2020, 11,000 high street businesses closed their doors for good across England, Wales and Scotland.

Lewisham has one of the largest proportion of small businesses in the capital, making them vital to the boroughs local economy. The council launched their ‘Shop Safe, Shop Local’ initiative in December 2020 which called for people to shop locally to protect local businesses and jobs.  

Following the second lockdown earlier this year, the council extended their support by reviving the campaign, adding in free tote bags for certain local businesses to distribute. 

Lewisham Council have also provided one-off funding to support local businesses that aren’t covered by other grant schemes or where additional funding is needed. 

The grants go up to £9000 for small businesses based in the borough. The grant value depends on the number of employees employed by the business in question.

This funding has now been extended to 28 May which has been appreciated by Lewisham’s small local businesses:

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