This week, as part of Stroud District Council’s Shop Local campaign, we hear from Tony Davey, chairman of Stroud and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce.

Despite the unprecedented challenges our business and social communities have faced, the signs of recovery in our market towns is certainly there to see, as restrictions are being lifted and adjustments made for the new now.

As preparations to reopen started, the Chamber surveyed local business about their strategies - the overwhelming priority was safety; safety of customers and safety of staff.

From displaying posters to working through assessments and installing screens, the businesses stepped out of their comfort zone to embrace new regulations and make necessary adjustments.

This investment is being rewarded as customers return in higher than expected numbers, albeit footfall remains below pre-lockdown levels for many.

Within the Stroud district we are blessed with a community who value the importance of local businesses and are making a determined effort to shop local - they know doing so rebuilds their local economy and bolsters their community, in addition to showing welcome support for those businesses that have been so impacted during such uncertain times.

The Chamber has produced a toolkit that both helped businesses to prepare for reopening and supports them today, as we continue through unpredictable times and regularly review our measures to ensure they are the best they can be.

It is free to use and contains posters to help convey a consistent and compliant message, in addition to ready-to-go social media assets to help keep customers informed and engaged.

It also has useful resources addressing common challenges and concerns.

Having services and hospitality businesses open alongside traditional retail is helping to add to footfall and a more balanced experience on our high streets.

With four weeks behind us already since “non-essential” retail were allowed to reopen their doors, we still take each day as it comes, but with increasing confidence.

We must all remember the importance of keeping safe.

The measures businesses have put in place are to make their environments safer.

Our councils (local and district) in collaboration with business groups like ours are working together to help make our streets and shared spaces safer.

We all need to ensure we exercise safer practices such as distancing and being more aware of those around us.

Together we will ensure shopping and visiting our towns is safer.