INDEPENDENT shops and stores in Corsham, like so many other parts of the country, are working hard to keep their businesses afloat, but also to serve as a lifeline to their communities.

Daniel Rich, from Corsham Hardware, said: “We have to have confidence in what the government are doing and telling us. I feel so sorry for the older generation caught up in this. They are very worried and we are doing our best to reassure them.

“We did an online poll to find out what our customers wanted us to do. Overwhelmingly, they voted for a counter at the door, so we have gone back to Arkwright-style shopping. But it’s about keeping people safe and we see this as a community-driven decision.”

Mitchell May, from May’s Greengrocers, said: “For safety reasons we are operating a two in, two out shopping policy, not just for our customers’ safety, but also our staff. Last week it was like Christmas times 10, but without the time to prepare for it.”

“This week, after more stern announcements from government, we are definitely seeing a more careful approach from everyone. We have seen our payment methods flip completely, from 70 per cent of people paying by cash, to 70 per cent paying by card.

“We still have supplies coming in and we are open. We are offering a delivery service, if people want to ring in to place an order. .

Toby Haynes, of Toby Haynes Family Butchers, said: “We are open and are more than happy for people to ring in and place orders and will deliver locally for free, three days a week. . Understandably, people are cautious about coming out and we want to reassure people that we are here for them and we are grateful for their custom and patience.”

Bronwen Clarke, owner of the Deli at Corsham, said:

“We’re open and we are doing our best to stock what people are needing. Our deliveries are still coming in. We welcome any orders by phone or email and people can click and collect it.

“There’s a great community spirit here in Corsham, so many people are coming in and collecting shopping for elderly neighbours, family and friends. We are all in this together.”

Owner of Previous Homeware, Nicola White, said: “I have diverted my direct phone line to my mobile and we can take orders, which we will deliver for free locally. We are selling open-ended gift vouchers if customers want purchase them.

Janet Brakspear, from Corsham Bookshop, said: “We are taking orders over the phone, we’re happy for people to ring and have a chat. We will deliver for free locally. I’m not envisaging earning a lot in the next six months and of course that is a concern.

“Small businesses are where people like to come and have a chat and I know that there will be many who will miss out on that. We have a strong relationship with our customers.”

Sanjeevan Garcha, of Barnett Bros newsagents, said: “Our deliveries are still coming in and people can phone in their orders and we will deliver, even if we have to close. We are taking every precaution to look after our customers and keep them safe.”

“We are staying open,” said Richard Moulton of Spindles Bikes, “and want people to know they can still come to the shop or ring us.”