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Make Yourself At Home with… Sheffield’s Home Delivery Services

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Coronavirus has pushed businesses in Sheffield to innovate in many ways, one of which is the widespread adoption of home delivery services, which offer a lifeline to many independent traders and could transform the way we spend forever.

Historically, many home delivery services have been offered by large corporates, but the last six months have seen a growth in this offer from Sheffield’s ever-present independent traders, putting an expanded range of options for food, drink and much more at our fingertips.

Mazen Musaed from Sheffield-based start-up platform 3 Miles notes that this started as a basic need with March’s national lockdown, because so many people couldn’t access much-needed deliveries from supermarkets.

3 Miles was founded before the pandemic, but Musaed says that the outbreak has “emphasised and amplified” the importance of the local independent businesses it works with, who were able to step in to fill the gap for so many local people.

The growth in this offer specifically from independent traders feels important. As Paul from City Grab points out, “transnational corporations take high percentages, taking money out of the local economy. We feel it’s very important to put that back into the independents.”

City Grab, operated by City Taxis and its fleet of 1,500 drivers, recently launched a new version of its app, giving users access to hundreds of businesses, most of them offering takeaway food.

Innovating in this way early on in the pandemic clearly helped a large number of businesses in Sheffield that would have otherwise had to cease trading completely. As we enter into another period of restrictions on social contact, it looks likely these services will yet again become vital – not just for businesses, but for the people of Sheffield as well.

There are around 2.2 million people in the UK who need to shield when there is a high prevalence of the virus. A staff member from Smith & Tissington, a butchers and fishmongers located in the Moor Market, comments that offering home delivery services “means customers can stay at home if they're not too sure of coming out yet – or, if they're on the vulnerable list, it means they can still get our products.”

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Smith & Tissington at the Moor Market.

Abbeydale Brewery is another local company that has started offering home deliveries after almost 25 years selling its beer business-to-business, mostly to pubs, bars and shops. “We flipped our business model into selling small packs from our online shop. Sales grew from 6 a week to 600 a week,” Sales Director Dan Baxter says. “Our end drinkers have really quite enjoyed that one-to-one interaction with the brewers.”

Another plus point for beer drinkers is that, due to the pandemic, the brewery is offering its iconic mainstay pale ale Moonshine in cans. Abbeydale has also transformed its popular Funk Fest beer festival into Funk Fest At Home, with online tutored tastings of home-delivered beers over the Halloween weekend.

The benefits of local services like these are obvious; they allow people to access high-quality, often locally-sourced and locally-made products from the safety of their own home, as well as offering the chance to try something completely new, whether that’s fresh produce from a local greengrocer or a more adventurous takeaway choice. The potential for a new kind of positive localism, while it’s hard to see in the midst of the outbreak, is very real, in Sheffield and across the globe. The way we spent – and where we spend – could change radically for the better.

With tier 3 restrictions in place in South Yorkshire, it’s likely that many businesses will have a challenging winter. In that sense, home delivery services could be a real lifeline. But more than that, they will help Sheffielders to invest in the vital independent sector which supports so many jobs and brings so much uniqueness to our city.

Filed under: #Make Yourself at Home

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