Now that schools have reopened and most aspects of life seem to be returning to normality, what will happen to the small businesses that were brutally struck by Covid’s storm - will they be able to bounce back?

Many businesses have been enduring long periods of hardship, not knowing when customers would come back, or whether activity would ever go back to previous levels.

This has been particularly hard for small, local businesses that do not have the resources of larger scale organisations. To find out more, I spoke to Ratnam, a part-time employee at the Bickley Express, a local newsagent store situated inside Bickley train station.

Firstly, although a lot of people’s daily events have been resumed and their lives have gone back to normal, small businesses are still suffering from new regulations. For example, Ratnam states that now, “customers have to wait outside of the shop” until whoever is “inside has finished shopping”. This causes those waiting outside to “sometimes miss their trains”, which “is a big issue”, as people may decide not to take this risk, resulting in a lost business deal for Ratnam.

Secondly, Ratnam says that despite Covid regulations specifying that only one person is allowed in the shop at a time while wearing a mask, a lot of people “don’t wait for their turn to go into the shop” and “don’t wear their masks properly”, which “makes [him] and other customers uncomfortable”.

When asked how long he thought it would take for everything to go back to normal, Ratnam believes that “it depends on the people” and that there must be “proper support from the government” in enforcing their regulations, as a huge amount of people “don’t follow the law properly”. However, if “people cooperate with the government’s rules”, Ratnam speculates that “it could take around six months” for businesses to get back to running as usual.

During quarantine, “there weren’t many passing customers”. However, as more people started taking the train to school or work, stopping by the shop on their way to the station, the shop’s number of consumers increased drastically. Therefore, although the unfavourable circumstances caused by Covid have made a huge dent in local businesses, things are looking up.

Overall, while it might take a while for small and local businesses to recuperate the losses they have faced during the pandemic, they are slowly but confidently seeing numbers of customers and profits promisingly rise once again.