Shop Local: ‘We need to Shop Local and bootstrap our own economy’

Shopping local has never been so important - Archant says we need to use our indies or lose them. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Shopping local has never been so important - Archant says we need to use our indies or lose them. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Independent businesses across the region will go bust without a bumper Christmas, new research has shown.

A survey of more than 200 firms across East Anglia found that coronavirus restrictions and consumer confidence have hit coffers hard.

The poll was commissioned by this newspaper to launch the Shop Local campaign.

Shop Local is a use-it-or-lose-it plea to shoppers to consider independent traders and businesses this Christmas and beyond in a bid to bolster our beloved high streets and spark a wave of online spending with local retailers.

Keeping money in Suffolk and north Essex is vital as the economy splutters in the wake of the pandemic.

The Centre for Local Economic Strategies found that for every £1 spent at a local business 63p ends up back in the local economy compared to only 5p spent at a larger retailer.

The results of the survey are stark:

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• 77% of regional businesses are relying on a strong festive trading period this year

• Just 33% of businesses are confident they will not make any redundancies between now and March 2021. Even then, the vast majority have either already made redundancies, or are run by a single person

• 40% of businesses in East Anglia do not have an online presence.

Outlining the scale of the problem, professor Joshua Bamfield of the Centre for Retail Research, said: “Shopping local means money is kept in the regional economy – supporting jobs and the entire supply chain. It is even more important to do so in areas like East Anglia because although we have well-established brands, they don’t see the same government spend that areas like the south east do.

“It also doesn’t have the cheaper rates and suppliers you get up north. It rather supports the feeling that if no one else is going to support us, we need to do it ourselves and bootstrap our own economy.”

This is why the East Anglian Daily Times is launching the Shop Local campaign encouraging our readers to spend their hard-earned cash in the local economy and with the retailers who need it the most.

The Shop Local campaign will include much-needed coverage for independents and has been welcomed by the Federation for Small Businesses (FSB).

Andrew Mower, development manager for East Anglia, said: “This campaign comes at a vital time for our region’s fantastic small firms, who have faced unprecedented challenges but have continued to demonstrate their importance to our communities.

“If we want to continue to enjoy the unique products and services that local businesses provide then now is the time for the public and decision-makers to support them in any way possible.

“Shopping local, ensuring that our high streets and historic town centres are thriving, will play a key role in the economic recovery in the months ahead.”

Richard Porritt, business and politics editor for the East Anglian Daily Times, said: “The pound in our pocket has never been more valuable. The independent businesses we talk to day in, day out, have made us well aware of how tightly they were squeezed in the pandemic and they have never needed our support more.

“Our SMEs do not have deep pockets to rely on – many of them don’t know what will happen next month let alone next year. And yet so many of them are our favourite restaurants, shops and suppliers.

“We want to throw our support behind this engine of our regional economy – and hope our readers will join us in this endeavour.”

Already Shop Local has received widespread political backing.

Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “Throughout this pandemic we have seen people across Suffolk come together and help others, right now local shops and businesses need our collective help more than ever.

“Businesses have all been working so hard over the past six months, not only adjusting the way they work but in some cases by changing products entirely, or by producing life-saving PPE for our NHS and care providers.

“These traders and business people have been at the heart of our pandemic response and we need them to still be there for us in the future. They cannot do that without our support now.

“I fully endorse this important campaign from the East Anglian – I urge all of us to think and Shop Local this Christmas – shop for Suffolk.”