What to do next when shutting up shop

As a third national lockdown continues, the Association of Cycle Traders (ACT) is offering guidance to IBDs throughout the country. ACT PR and marketing executive Tabitha Walker outlines some of the help available to bike shops

On 4th January, the Prime Minister took the necessary step of enforcing yet another national lockdown by restricting individual freedoms to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.

Bicycle shops have remained as essential retailers throughout all three lockdowns as they continue to remain open to serve the public’s transport needs.

For bicycle shops that have chosen to remain open during these challenging times, the ACT has published a guidance document to help with continuing with business and remaining safe at the same time. This guidance is just one part of the coronavirus resources the ACT has been publishing on a   regular basis.

However, many bicycle shops have already chosen to take the route of closing their shop and/or working remotely where possible. This is a summary of information for bicycle shops that are considering closure/have already closed due to COVID-19.

WHAT GRANTS AM I ENTITLED TO?
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Employers are now able to make a claim to cover wages for employees on temporary leave (‘furlough’) due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Bicycle shops are eligible to make this claim, although you must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28th February 2020 and have a UK bank account.

You will receive a grant from HMRC to cover the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular wage or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.

At a minimum, employers must pay their employee the lower of 80% of their regular wage or £2,500 per month. An employer can also choose to top up an employee’s salary beyond this but is not obliged to under this scheme. Find out more about how to begin your claim on the Government website.

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme
As well as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme is also available to bicycle shops.
This provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 may be eligible for a grant of £10,000. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

If you are eligible for this grant, your local authority will write to you. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.

Small Business Grant Scheme
The Government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

If you are eligible for this grant, your local authority will write to you. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.

What loans can I get?
The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme provides SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years.
The Government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the Government-owned British Business Bank.

There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks. Check to see if your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria. The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website. Government coronavirus business support is ever-changing as the situation develops, keep an eye on all updates on the support for businesses and self-employed people during coronavirus page.

How can I keep my business going without being physically open?
While your shop is shut you may be finding yourself with a little extra time on your hands.
Take this opportunity to tailor your business to the millions of customers that are already shopping online, and the millions more that will be joining them during this isolation period. Appeal to this audience by building a robust online brand using social media platforms and your own website.

The way in which consumers are shopping will be forced to alter during these times; it is critical to evaluate your business and identify ways in which you can evolve alongside current shopping trends. Identifying your customers’ wants and needs and adapting to cater towards these is the first step in surviving and thriving throughout this crisis, particularly as we draw closer to the Easter period.

Use social media management platforms
Managing multiple different platforms and keeping track of responses, engagement and insights can be a hefty job for even the most accomplished of social media experts. However, there are companies out there that are here to make this as easy as possible and allow you to take full advantage of your data.

Now more than ever it is crucial to ensure your online offering is up-to-scratch and an active social media presence can be an excellent way of capturing new and potential customers. Maybe* is a platform that specialises in helping teams to create exceptional social media experiences that generate business results.

Let customers know you are still trading
The Bicycle Association and Association of Cycle Traders have worked together to make a tool where key workers and others can quickly find open bike shops. To do this, we need to know ASAP if your bike shop remains open, and on what basis.

To add your details, please go to openbikeshops.uk/trade. Your opening information will then be available nationally via openbikeshops.uk so that customers can direct any enquiries straight to you

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