A Devon woman has started a petition as part of a bid to raise awareness of the plight of small independent businesses selling non-essential items.
Nicky Edmunds, along with her husband Paul, is the owner of two independent shops called Insideout, based in Exeter and Tavistock, selling gifts and homewares.
She is calling on the Government to recognise that large retailers classified as selling ‘essentials’ (and therefore allowed to stay open during lockdown) are capitalising on the sale of non-essential items in the lead up to Christmas.
Nicky said: “I can’t actually believe this is happening. It is like saying that it is ok for all these other businesses to continue as they are doing. Other independents and small businesses can be sacrificed. Some of the businesses that I have been observing, such as Wilko or The Range, sell minimal numbers of ‘essentials’ but they can still trade. It is incredibly distressing.”
Nicky, who has been running Insideout for 16 years, has seen her petition gather momentum since she first launched it late on Sunday afternoon.
“I am so worried for our communities”, she said. “I don’t want our communities to suffer any more. We cannot let this continue. I want my community to be safe, but I don’t want it to be a place that I don’t recognise at the end of this.”
“My family and I went along to witness it for ourselves, going to see a store in Plymouth that sells a very tiny amount of essential items and they were rammed with people buying non-essentials, mainly gifts and Christmas decorations. I just cannot believe that the government is allowing this to happen.”
Nicky launched her petition with a passionate plea to her supporters to spread the message far and wide. In an emotionally charged live broadcast she said: “I am petitioning the government that either all retailers can re-open or the retailers that sell essential things (such as food or things to repair your home) are not allowed to also sell non-essentials. What it is doing to allow those businesses to sell non-essentials is encouraging people to spend with them and no-one else. It will break small businesses like ours.”
She added: “This is a cry for help.”
You can visit the petition here.