A Wiltshire retail expert has urged local businesses to explore as many online options as they can ahead of the region's second lockdown. Gordon MacPherson is managing director of the Retailer Group, which has worked with high streets up and down the country as they adapt to social distancing measures in the wake of the first lockdown.

Now, as closed signs are erected across Wiltshire, Mr MacPherson explained that high streets in Wiltshire held up “better than expected.”

Mr MacPherson, who lives in Malmesbury, said: “There are winners and losers in every town with clothing and hospitality being hit hardest. Retailers that continued to ‘make a noise’ through social media during lockdown performed best when they reopened.

"Smaller local towns have gained new customers as people have avoided the big cities and continued to work from home. This is a massive change in shopper behaviour and something that would normally only happen over a great number of years.

“Local high streets have the best opportunity in history to grow their business.”

Retailers who offer click and collect and offer their services online will have the best chance of surviving the second lockdown, according to the expert.

He added: “This is a massive point and some switched on retailers are benefitting enormously others who have not yet migrated online need to move quickly online. There are many options to do so and it’s not as complicated as some would think.”

Mr Macpherson recently worked with traders in Malmesbury to create an “action plan” for the town.

A gift card scheme was created and came to be incredibly important throughout the pandemic as a chance for local people to support local independent traders.

Moving forward, Mr Macpherson thinks that retailers in Wiltshire and beyond need to be optimistic and explore online as much as possible.

He said: “From the retailers we speak to across various towns there is a clear message and learning. Retailers are always busy people and the ones that have taken the time to look hard at their business to find new routes to market have performed best.

"Setting up a delivery service, especially to outlying smaller villages has helped customers who are shielding and improved the fortunes of the retailers.

“No one really knows what will happen next in the pandemic, we all hope for a vaccine and a speedy end to the current situation. It may be that we have further lockdowns in 2021 and preparing in advance is the best step to protect businesses.”