BREXIT is as challenging for businesses as the pandemic - a leading York trader warned.

Sue Hunter, a city councillor, florist and co-founder of traders' association Acomb Alive, says she has concerns about the impact of the UK leaving the European Union, particularly as businesses struggle with the impact of coronavirus.

Cllr Hunter runs Floral Elegance in Front Street in Acomb, which she launched after a career change led her back to college to retrain as a florist 20 years ago.

She outlined the measures she and many other small business owners in the city have had to take to adapt to the pandemic - and her concerns about how Brexit could affect prices, supply and her customers.

Cllr Hunter said: "I've been doing this for 20 years and I do enjoy my work.

"The pandemic has been challenging. I consider myself one of the fortunate ones. I have been able to work through it behind closed doors.

"Demand has not diminished. It's been very varied because people haven't been able to go to the shops and get gifts, so they have switched to flowers.

"People have wanted flowers to put a smile on their loved one's faces. Thankfully there have not been as many funerals as we thought there could be."

But there has been extra expense. Cllr Hunter rented space at a nearby business to allow for social distancing while she prepares bouquets and hired extra drivers and a van as more customers opted for deliveries rather than visiting the shop.

She said most Acomb traders have been able to adapt and a handful of new businesses have even opened up during the pandemic.

"Some businesses have looked at how they trade and adapted really well but there are others that have suffered," she said.

She warned: "I think Brexit is as challenging as the pandemic because we do not know how this is going to affect us - businesses just don't know where they are.

"That can be as challenging as covid. At least with covid you know you have to stop too many people coming through your door.

"With Brexit, you do not know what is going to happen to prices, whether anything is going to make it to your business - especially with perishable items like flowers.

"It's going to be a stressful start to the new year."

She said flowers come from Holland through the Dutch markets and she does not know if there will be transport delays.

She added: "Prices go up for Christmas anyway and we are expecting a hike on them this year.

"From a council point of view, the council has supported businesses by getting the grants out as quickly as possible. But the Government needs to do more- particularly around the uncertainty.

"Flowers are a luxury. There's only so much cost increase a business can absorb

"You don't want to start making bouquets smaller to take in the expense of Brexit.

"I have not put delivery prices up because you have to compete with places like Amazon."

But she sounded a note of positivity for small business owners in York, saying: "I just hope the community support continues once the pandemic is all over. I tend to feel it is a bit more positive, particularly in Acomb because we are a community that pulls together."