Coronavirus: Falkirk businesses determined to withstand economic effects of pandemic

Falkirk businesses are vowing to meet any problems posed by coronavirus head-on as the pandemic makes sweeping changes to the global economy.

By Jonathon Reilly
Thursday, 19th March 2020, 9:56 am

Retailers in the town bracing themselves for the impact of COVID-19 are determined to stand firm and continue providing for customers — despite having already experienced a slump in sales.

As the UK Government urges members of the public to self-isolate at home to prevent the spread of the disease, there’s inevitably a sense of trepidation among business owners.

However, a £320 million rescue package for businesses has been confirmed by Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

Lauren Brown, owner of Sisters Boutique in Falkirk, is one of many retailers facing up to the economic effects of coronavirus. Picture: Michael Gillen

There also remains a strong sense of commitment among those who work in local shops, pubs and restaurants to try to weather the storm in any way possible.

Behind The Wall owner Brian Flynn has moved to turn the Melville Street bar into a “call and collect” service in a bid to boost revenue.

He said: “It’s pretty devastating so far.

“As far as the town and the licensed trade is concerned, it’s a watching and waiting brief.

“You’ve got to try to come out the other side stronger and wiser. We’re trying to keep open and keep paying staff for as long as possible.

“We started our own call and collect takeaway menu on Tuesday night which was quite successful and we will be doing deliveries and online ordering.

“We’ve had to pay people off because a lot of our staff are part-time so the hours aren’t there for them to continue and unfortunately that’s the way it is.

“We’re going for a nucleus of skeleton staff and trying to develop what we can on the takeaway side.”

Elsewhere, Sisters Boutique in Lint Riggs is ensuring hygiene standards are as high as possible.

Lauren Brown, Sisters owner and buyer, said: “We have to ride out the storm.

“It’s a situation no-one could ever have predicted and it’s one nobody has ever dealt with.

“Figures are way down but we’ve still got customers coming in and we’ve ramped up the hygiene.

“We’re constantly cleaning and steaming the whole shop. We’re taking it to another level and asking staff to regularly wash their hands and avoid touching customers’ hands.

“What the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said about the £350 billion for the economy was absolutely brilliant but I think it still needs to go further and the government knows that. The key thing was it gave me confidence that we are all in it together which I’ve not had up until now.”

Natalie Godfrey, Frox of Falkirk office manager, said employees at the Newmarket Street store are steadfast in their commitment to customers.

She said: “We’re business as usual until we’re told otherwise. We might have to go down to appointments only based on government advice and social distancing. We rely on customers for income and sales but you just have to hold on tight.”