GFSB Supporting Local Businesses
The Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses (GFSB) exists to help small businesses in Gibraltar to start, grow and thrive. Now in the run up to Christmas, one of their missions is to help their members by encouraging people to shop locally.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the message for every local town or city was to shop local, but it’s no secret that nearly every aspect of life has been upended because of coronavirus, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the retail sector. Think of the Lion King’s ‘Circle of Life’ and apply that analogy to businesses that are struggling and the knock-on effect for the local economy. If we spend our money locally this helps the local economy and, in turn, it generates taxes which pay for public services such as our health care and schools.
Small businesses are facing huge pressures since the pandemic began and it is hoped that none have to close. They are adapting fast to secure livelihoods but they need help to ensure that they can maintain their staff and enable them to be able to pay mortgages and put food on the table.
Consider that when you purchase goods elsewhere, either over the border in Spain or online, they may seem a couple of pounds cheaper or maybe even a little more expensive, but the GFSB has carried out some price comparisons and there are many items which are worth buying in Gibraltar, not forgetting that it is often better for the environment to shop locally and it also cuts down on your carbon footprint.
The BEAT Covid assistance measures implemented by the Gibraltar Government aimed at protecting jobs and retaining employment have gone some way to helping and the GFSB has been proactive in assisting their members to understand how the BEAT measures work in practice. However, the tourism industry has been heavily affected by the pandemic, particularly the shops and restaurants in the town area and around Main Street.
Although the GFSB’s responsibility is to the business community, they support the Government’s Green Gibraltar initiative, whilst at the same time maintaining the interests of their members. The introduction of charges for parking at Midtown Car Park that was previously free for all Gibraltar ID card holders was an example in case, but thanks to consultation with the GFSB and the Chamber, the Government have waived parking fees for three hours. Now residents can come into town, have a coffee, maybe a meal and do some shopping. The message from the GFSB is that there are many different ways to shop locally, including walking or via bus, cycling or car. In fact, there are many towns and cities around the world where paying to park is the norm, and tourists coming into Gibraltar are often used to paying for parking, so locals are encouraged to take advantage of the introduction of the three hour free parking scheme.
The Keep it Local Campaign, a joint effort between the GFSB, the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce and the Gibraltar Government, has been in place for a few months already, but now the focus will be on Christmas with several ideas about how to help and incentivise people to stay local, including a discount scheme or gift vouchers that can be reclaimed at one of a number of stores.
Christmas is usually a very important shopping time in Gibraltar and there is always a buzz along and around the Main Street area with people popping out to their local shops or restaurants, bumping into friends and stopping to chat. This year, although things may be a bit different, the Main Street Business Improvement District (BID) commissioned by the GFSB, once voted in will hopefully improve the identity of the town. The BID will look to develop a ‘uniquely Gibraltarian experience’, ensuring we provide a clean, green and welcoming area for tourists and locals alike. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 situation, progress was interrupted but going forward it is an exciting way to help businesses take control of and improve their trading environment. This is something that will help the business community really focus its efforts and make the whole shopping experience that much better for both tourists and locals, hopefully attracting more tourists to come back in the New Year.
These are extraordinary times but with your everyday choices you can support our home. Choose Gibraltar first and as it says on the Keep it Local website; ‘Spend your money where your heart is’.