A NSW Central West retailer forced to temporarily close her shop during the coronavirus pandemic says Buy from the Bush "saved" her business during the health and economic crisis.
Mink and me owner Lucy Moss, Coonamble, credits the social media campaign started to help drought-hit communities in the lead-up to Christmas with having an ongoing benefit, even through the disruption of COVID-19.
Her store's doors were closed for nine weeks until June 1, but she reported online sales had continued during the period, providing work for herself and two employees.
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Buy from the Bush was launched on social media platforms in October to showcase to city customers the products available from regional communities facing drought.
It helped mink and me's revenue grow five-fold in the last quarter of 2019, and Mrs Moss reported its impact had continued.
"I'm happy to say it has, certainly not to the levels of the Christmas trading, but that exposure has meant that Mother's Day, for example, someone's birthday, they've had that visibility to that customer base, and that's kept going," she said.
"It's definitely saved us through COVID... it basically picked up the slack that the shop being closed left.
"So that was really important having that online website as well as that social media presence to be able to still operate, and I can only really thank Buy from the Bush for that exposure."
Despite copping the global pandemic after three years of drought, the boutique owner says she has emerged from the COVID-19 shutdown feeling "pretty positive".
"I'm quite thankful we've had that time to regroup, to reassess what we've been doing right, what we've been doing wrong, to do some little renovations in the process," Mrs Moss said.
"And to actually open and feel really positive about going forward, I think that's pretty special, I'm grateful for the time."
A new survey suggests confidence is returning among small business owners across Australia, but it's tempered with caution.
A total of 80 per cent of surveyed small business owners are optimistic their business will survive the COVID-19 pandemic, however, if trade doesn't pick up quickly enough, about half fear for their long-term survival, the Small Business Recovery research, commissioned by American Express, shows.
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said there was no doubt there had never been a tougher time to be in business.
"While it's encouraging to see so many small businesses confident they can survive this crisis, they will face enormous challenges over the coming months as they work to get back on their feet," she said.
"What small businesses need right now is our support.
"The best way to do that is by visiting your local small businesses or shopping online for local products and services.
"Every dollar spent not only goes to that small business, but to the community as well."
The research insights accompany an early return of Shop Small, a national movement founded by American Express to celebrate the valuable contributions small businesses make to their communities and the economy, and to encourage shoppers to support them.