Shop Local: ‘Without your support many independents won’t be here next year’
- Credit: Archant
Bosses have backed a campaign to get independent stores’ tills ringing this Christmas.
This newspaper’s Shop Local campaign is a use-it-or-lose-it plea to shoppers to consider independent traders and businesses this festive period and beyond in a bid to bolster our much-loved high streets.
Keeping money in Norfolk and Waveney is vital. According to research by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies for every £1 spent at an independent business 63p ends up back in the local economy compared to only 5p spent at a national or international retailer.
Businesses owners have backed the bid and highlighted why shopping locally offers far more than the often soulless experience of filling the Christmas stocking on a mobile phone.
Mark Kacary is the co-owner of the Norfolk Deli in Hunstanton, and believes there is a “perfect storm” on the high street which could lead to “a lot of independents not being here come 2021”.
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“Everybody loves their local shops – they talk about how fantastic it is to have an independent butcher or cheese monger on their high street,” he said. “But unless they go into those shops and look around and buy many of them won’t be here next year. It has never been so important to Shop Local and I fully support this campaign.”
And Shop Local comes at a critical moment for the region with new data showing consumer spending is slowing.
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New research by the Centre for Cities has shown that spending in Norwich has dropped off since the end of August and early September.
As a baseline index of 100 prior to lockdown, the data shows that spending has fallen from a peak of 109 points at the start of September to 87 by the end of the same month.
Workers, which provide much-needed funds for cafes and restaurants, have also not returned in large numbers.
Currently footfall insights suggest that only 33pc of the city’s workforce has returned compared to pre-lockdown figures.
The city’s night-time economy is also being especially hit with its index at a worrying 34 points.
This is well below the national average which is currently sitting at 44 points.
And the same goes for market town high streets across the region, with retail data specialists Springboard reporting a 25.6pc fall in footfall across the East of England compared to pre-lockdown.
But it is not all doom and gloom on our county’s high streets.
Weekend spending has in fact increased since just before lockdown, up 8pc on mid-March.
But with winter looming and the threat of tighter lockdown restrictions a very real prospect our independents face an existential crisis. But not only does shopping local protect the livelihoods of those without deep pockets to fall back on, it offers consumers something more than faceless chains.
Paige Mitchell is the 25-year-old owner of Elm in Norwich’s Lanes which sells plants and homeware. She said that being an independent not only offers customers better quality and choice, it also fosters the city’s artistic centre.
“In the coming months we will be working with on some new collaborations – we like to do what we can to support independent artists,” she said.
“All of our colleagues are also former designers from university, be it graphic design or illustration. We want to support them in their arts so allow them to work as flexibly as possible, and I don’t know if bigger companies would do that.
“I also think the quality of what we sell is better. In a supermarket they get the plants off the lorry and that’s it, but if we don’t look after the plants then we lose that money. I don’t like putting stuff in the bin either which is why every month or so we put plants we sell out for free.”
Leanne Fridd is the co-owner of independent book shop Bookbugs and Dragon Tales. She added: “In the current climate, shopping locally has become more important than ever.
“Small, independent businesses don’t have huge advertising budgets and often rely on word of mouth and loyalty to ensure that they can keep the doors open. But, more than this, local shops get to know you and your families – we watch them grow and more often than not, become friends.
“Independents each have a unique style which prevents the high street from becoming a landscape of chain stores and empty shops with no character. Independents care about more than your money and right now, they need your support.”