Small businesses all over the UK are being put in the limelight this weekend.

And after an incredibly challenging near-two years of lockdowns, closures, restrictions and damage to trade caused by coronavirus and other factors, they need our backing like never before.

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That’s why, to mark Small Business Saturday on December 4, we’re urging everyone to #ThinkWhereYouShop and back independent traders as much as possible this Christmas.

Hull Live has joined forces with InYourArea , our sister local news platform, and Down Your High Street to encourage everyone to shop consciously this year and support smaller businesses.

Down Your High Street provides an online shop window for local bricks and mortar retailers all over the UK, so it’s never been easier to spend with independent businesses near and far.

Chief executive Dan Whytock said: “For us, supporting local is all about the future.

“When local stores closed due to the pandemic it was a scary reality of what life could be like if high street shops were no more.

“Nowhere to meet friends, nowhere to grab a coffee, and nothing unique about where you live.

101 co-owners Younes Grairi and Nat Jacobs
101 co-owners Younes Grairi and Nat Jacobs

“Christmas is the most important season in retail, where 60% of a retailer’s sales are made, a vital part of their cashflow to cover the cost of local staff, rents, and rates. If we don’t use our local shops during this period, we really do risk losing the heart of our communities.”

Right here in Hull, there are countless local businesses who would value your support in the run-up to Christmas. One such business, is independent fashion retailer, 101.

Speaking to Hull Live, the owners said: "Hull is an amazing place and it has a lot to shout about, but it can’t be anything without local support.

"It’s a cool feeling being able to sell to our loyal clientele and we love building new relationships with every new customer who comes in. We’re hoping to get better and better as we grow and offer excellent customer service.

Shaun Barker-Newton runs 19Point4
Shaun Barker-Newton runs 19Point4

"Local support is huge for us as every sale helps us grow as a company and be able to plan bigger and better things in the future to bring to the city."

Another local business is 19Point4, who sell a range of beautiful clothes and homeware items.

Speaking to Hull Live, owner Shaun Barker-Newton said: "While it easier for people to just shop online, if everyone were to do that, then we would lose the high street and towns and cities would just get emptier and emptier.

"It is important for people to think about what they can get locally, especially from small businesses, as it also means you are often getting something a bit different that not everyone else is getting.

Caroline Pendleton manages Poorboy
Caroline Pendleton manages Poorboy

"This year, we have noticed a lot more support from local people and we have been busier. It's really positive.

"We spend a lot of time deciding what to stock for our customers, so it's really reassuring when people do come in and shop with us. We are very appreciative of all the people who shop local."

Caroline Pendleton is the manager of Poorboy, an independent clothing boutique in Hull.

Speaking to Hull Live, she said: "It's so important for people to shop local, otherwise small businesses won't be able to survive.

Think Where You Shop is encouraging people to shop locally
Think Where You Shop is encouraging people to shop locally

"I know it's difficult because of the ease of shopping online, but the experience of actually shopping is something you can only get if you visit your local shops.

"If you don't visit the shops, they won't last and unfortunately they'll have to close down.

"A woman came in this morning and bought a lot of presents for people and I told that she had made my week. When people come in and shop with us, it's magic."

The UK Government’s Small Business Minister Paul Scully backed the campaign.

He said: “Small businesses make our communities thrive, and we want to see people getting out there and shopping local as safely as possible this Small Business Saturday and throughout the year.

“We’re backing small businesses and helping them plan for the long term, including through our Help to Grow: Digital and Help to Grow: Management schemes, and I would encourage any ambitious business leader to explore the range of government support that is available.”

In a nationwide survey carried out by InYourArea last month, more than 80 per cent of people said it’s important to them to have a thriving local high street nearby.

Thirty-six per cent of the 1,973 respondents said they prefer to shop at smaller independent businesses in-person for non-essential items but 54 per cent of people said they prefer the likes of Amazon and eBay for online non-essential purchases.

There was an even split between people who believed local high streets as we know them have a strong future (34 per cent) and those who think online shopping will dominate (32 per cent) - 34 per cent said they weren’t sure.

Without continued support, we could lose the high street
Without continued support, we could lose the high street

Almost 70 per cent of people said local businesses should have been given more support throughout the pandemic.

Tom Gibbon, Editor of InYourArea, said: “InYourArea is all about helping communities to thrive, and healthy high streets are really important to that.

“#ThinkWhereYouShop puts a little extra limelight on smaller, independent businesses who have been through an unbelievably tough time and need our backing now.

“So please do consider seeking out these traders to help fill your Christmas stockings this year - it makes all the difference and helps to keep your local economy moving.”

Get 10% off at independent businesses online

There’s even more reason to #ThinkWhereYouShop in the next few weeks too - Down Your High Street are offering 10% across their site with an exclusive code.

Just enter SMALLBIZ10 at the checkout after choosing your items .

So, when you're considering where to do your Christmas shopping this year, take a moment to consider your independent retailers in Hull and think about what your custom would mean to them.

Buying gifts from local sellers will put a smile on more than one face this Christmas!

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