Businesses have spoken of their disappointment that an online shopping scheme has folded that was designed to help them recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Click It Local service operated in eastern counties, including Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, and offered the chance to buy from local independent or high street shops through one payment, but has had to close due to a lack of funding.

In the East Suffolk district alone, 35 live stores had signed up and another 23 had signed up waiting to go live between the project’s launch in December and the end of February, generating more than 433 orders and more than £8,300 in business for retailers.

However, although the ‘virtual high street’ had received money from a number of sources, including a £60,000 grant from East Suffolk Council using cash from the Government’s Welcome Back Fund, the Click It Local scheme was shut down due to questions over its long-term financial viability.

East Anglian Daily Times: Lynn and Steve Tricker, owners of Truly Traceable, another business involved with Click It Local Picture: Truly TraceableLynn and Steve Tricker, owners of Truly Traceable, another business involved with Click It Local Picture: Truly Traceable (Image: Archant)

Popular book shop Woodbridge Emporium, in Thoroughfare, was one of the local traders involved in Click It Local.

Owner Jules Button felt the project could have been publicised more effectively, which may have made it more viable.

“We are sad it has finished. We felt it could have been better publicised because a lot of people did not know it was there, so it probably did not get used as much as hoped and therefore affected their income.

“But we did have orders through it and I thought it was a very good service,” Ms Button said.

She added Click It Local was ideal in helping people avoid having to pay for petrol and parking to visit the book shop because they could order online instead.

Suffolk Smokehouse and Deli in Kelsale, which sells smoked cheeses and fish pates. was also involved.

Owner Jo Littlejohn said: “It was brilliant, but I can see why it did not work because they were not making any money out of it and with fuel costs going up, the driver was going here, there and everywhere.”

Lynn Tricker, who runs Truly Traceable Venison and Game Pies with her husband Steve, said she received a couple of extra orders a week through the online scheme.

She said: “It is such a shame because we were trying to get more people on board, but I think one of the fatal flaws was that the people who would benefit the most, such as elderly people who would have to go to the shops, not all of them are internet proficient.”