With another national lockdown in England underway, millions of us will be turning to different activities to keep us occupied.
One of those activities is likely to be reading books as retailers have revealed that sales have soared this year.
Bloomsbury, the book publisher, says its profits have risen by 60 per cent this year, reporting its best half-year profits since 2008.
While many simply turn to online giants such as Amazon by default during this time because of convenience, and often slightly lower prices, small businesses will need your support more than ever.
Hive and Bookshop.org allow customers to buy from local bookshops, giving them the profit
There are still ways customers can support independent booksellers without leaving their house – and at a reasonable price.
Hive is one such site that can help consumers get all the books they desire from their local bookstore.
It is connected to hundreds of independent bookshops across the UK with the website allowing users to use its bookshop finder to search for nearby shops.
They can then make an order which can either be collected, in non-lockdown times, or have it delivered at home.
Deliveries are all free, no matter the cost of the order, with each bookstore receiving a cut of the profits made by Hive.
It also sells and delivers DVDs, CDs, vinyls, stationery and other gifts.
Hive runs an affiliate programme, allowing websites owners to earn commission by placing banners or links to Hive from its website or blog.
When someone visits Hive from a link on your website, and subsequently places an order with the site, the referred sale is recorded and the affiliate is paid a commission based on the value of the sale.
Support: Whilst customers cannot get out to browse books in store, they can still do so online
Bookshop.org is another website that is also supporting local book sellers and originated in the US.
Launching in the UK at the beginning of this month, users can search the website to find a local bookshop to support which will then receive the full profit from your order.
If not buying from a specific store, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookshops.
Like Hive, it also raises money for bookshops through its affiliate programme.
If you are an author, a website or magazine, have a bookclub, an organisation that wants to recommend books, you can sign up to be an affiliate, start your own shop, and be rewarded for your advocacy of books.
When someone visits from a link on your website, and subsequently places an order with Bookshop, the referred sale is recorded and you are paid a 10 per cent commission and 10 per cent to independent bookshops.
How you can support local firms
During November’s lockdown, thousands of small businesses around the country will be forced to close their doors once again.
Whilst this is a huge blow to companies, there are still ways they can keep going.
In the wake of the first national lockdown, one in seven enhanced their online offering or established a web presence for the first time, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.
Chirag Shah, chief executive of Nucleus Commercial Finance, said: ‘With more uncertain times ahead, keeping British businesses afloat will be front of mind for many.
‘Customers are facing the same uncertainties, but still have important purchase power – especially as we approach what is normally a busy time of year for many small businesses: Christmas.
‘We can all pledge to “shop small” and buy from independent retailers, treat friends or family to a voucher for an independent pub or restaurant and champion our local businesses by engaging with them on social media and leaving reviews.’
Mike Cherry, National Chairman of FSB, added: ‘Since March, small businesses have been working hard to put safety measures in place and adapt their business models.
‘Small firms are resilient and – having spent large sums on making their premises safe – are now investing to ensure they can keep trading through the critical festive period.
‘We’d encourage all shoppers to please consider your local small businesses as first port of call over the coming weeks.
‘Go on their websites, check their social media and give them a buzz to see how you can support. They need you now more than ever.
‘Equally, we’re calling on all online marketplaces and delivery apps to treat their small business customers fairly. Doing so will be to the benefit of all in the long term.’
Emma Jones, founder of small business support network, Enterprise Nation, said: ‘We’ve seen a massive shift to people making an effort to support their local small businesses since March.
‘With Christmas approaching and many small firms closed during the most important trading period of the year, supporting them has never been more important.
‘Lockdown has also accelerated the uptake of digital technology and you will find many more of your local traders online.
‘Many have already adapted to offer takeaway or delivery services and some offer timed slots where you can pick up food items and drinks safely.’
Even though small firms are shutting, customers can support them online buy making orders
Below, Emma has given her tips on how to support businesses.
Check social media: While established takeaway food outlets have been allowed to continue to operate, cafes, pubs and restaurants may now be offering some new services.
Most have taken to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with more details about how you can access the service.
Support the high street: Many high street shops are now selling everything from beauty products to clothes to locally-made jams and pickles online and you can order in the same way you would a food order from Tesco.
Many local butchers, for example are now set up to offer click and collect. Do a google search or check social media for a link to their e-commerce website and have it delivered to your door.
Discover new brands: Some pre-planned activities like farmers markets and food festivals have already organised online events where you can access their products and order via one central website, like A South London Makers Market or Bath Christmas Market.
Use online marketplaces: Today many small businesses also have their own e-commerce platform and sell on powerful marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy and eBay.
It’s an easy way to support small by buying from them on marketplaces so you get double benefit of supporting a small business with delivery efficiencies guaranteed.