Harrogate shoppers urged to back Small Business Saturday campaign
As Harrogate traders keep their fingers crossed for a surge of customers in the first weekend shops have been open since lockdown, they have received a timely boost from a national campaign.
It's not the first time Small Business Saturday has taken place but, with Harrogate town centre looking lovely and inviting with the Christmas lights in anticipation of a much-needed increase in footfall, its role is more important than ever.
Harrogate businesses, especially local independents, have already started opening later since the second national lockdown ended on December, including smaller shops in the Montpellier Quarter, one of the town’s most prestigious retail areas.
Last month saw the launch of this year's #Supportlocal campaign with a Small Business Saturday tour covering 33 towns and cities over five weeks across the UK, including Pateley Bridge in the Harrogate district.
Now, the removal of lockdown restrictions earlier this week means not only that Small Business Saturday can take place tomorrow, Saturday, December 5, but it will be the first of three Saturdays to champion local shops and within our communities.
Now in its eighth year, Small Business Saturday UK last year saw an estimated £800 million spent in small businesses by a record 17.6 million customers.
The day itself takes place on the first Saturday in December each year but the campaign always aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses.
As part of this weekend's initiative, both the Federation of Small Businesses and British Independent Retailers Association are urging customers to "stay local, shop local".
Federation of Small Businesses national chair Mike Cherry said: “Small businesses are well and truly at the heart of our communities.
"That’s why it’s never been more important to support your local firms and, by extension, the community in which you live".
American Express, who founded the grassroots campaign in the US, remains the principal supporter of the Small Business Saturday campaign in Britain which is committed to encouraging consumers to shop on their doorstep.
Although Harrogate businesses find themselves, like all of North Yorkshire, operating under the rules of Tier 2 at the moment, coronavirus restrictions nationally appear to have boosted the nation’s love for UK small businesses with 59 per cent of Brits pledging more support now than before, according to Small Business Saturday and American Express research.
This has prompted a spike in public support with more than a third of us saying we will continue such support as before COVID-19.
Small Business Saturday Director Michelle Ovens said: “This crisis has brought home just how much small firms are at the heart of our communities.
"It’s no wonder support for Britain’s small businesses is rocketing.
"It’s vital we continue to support small businesses as this crisis continues, which is why we are determined to make this year’s campaign the most impactful ever.”
British Independent Retailers Association chief executive Andrew Goodacre argues that it is vital the public support local businesses this festive season.
More than ever, the Christmas run-up this year is an essential time for retail.
Mr Goodcare said: "Shopping is safe. All the evidence tells us that. Money spent locally is recycled locally, often paying for local suppliers, local people for their work and preserving local livelihoods. Every thriving community needs this local economy to prosper.”
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