£250k to help Lincolnshire coastal businesses wire in to the digital age
"SHOPPING habits are changing and we have to change with them."
These are words of businesswoman Karen Webb-Meek as independent companies in Cleethorpes can apply for a share of £250,000 grant funding.
The money is for coastal businesses between the Humber and the Wash to improve digital technology, from chip and pin devices to websites, to help traders keep up with competition from large chains.
Karen, chair of the Seaview Street Traders and owner of In The Pink jewellery in St Peter's Avenue, said: "Cleethorpes has many independent shops which haven't the support of IT experts and teams like the big chains have. You get small shopkeepers who know nothing about digital technology."
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In January, chain stores HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster went into administration and yesterday, clothes retailer Republic joined the list.
Jez Keefe, senior sales assistant at Comley Cameras, in St Peter's Avenue, said: "It is important to be up-to-date digitally, everyone has a computer nowadays and we have to be part of that. It benefits the shopper, but whether businesses will survive long term because of it remains to be seen.
"At the moment, Jessops closing has not had a huge impact on sales. Most companies will do more on services than sales at this time of year. There are a few moves at the minute which could see the big players like Nikon and Canon come back to local retailers. It is up to those big companies to support specialist retailers."
Karen added: "It would be foolish for any business not to consider trying to get online. Shopping habits are changing, people want to sit at home and shop and we have to change with them."
The Coastal Communities Fund has been awarded to Lincolnshire County Council following a central government bid by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
LCC put £50,000 into the fund and will decide who gets the money.
Doreen Stephenson, Coastal Champion for the LEP, said: "Embracing technology is so important in developing business."
A countywide broadband improvement project has also been launched to help coastal businesses.
Keep reading your Grimsby Telegraph for details of how to apply.