The Christmas spending frenzy has begun as shoppers get ready to rush online and to the high street chains for the busiest trading days of the year.
And this weekend, local retailers are making sure they don’t miss out as another Small Business Saturday gets ready to launch.
Their simple message is, “shop local” and help smaller companies thrive long into the new year in a bid to pull custom away from retail giants and online shopping.
At least five million of the UK’s small businesses open their doors on the shop local event every first weekend in December in hope of securing much-needed trade.
Joe Halas, co-owner of Spa Town Coffee in Leamington, said it is already making profits after just three months trading - and that the need for support is stronger than ever as the town get busier with festive shoppers.
Staff at Richard Clarke Greengrocers, which has been going over 50 years, is also urging shoppers to spend where it will have the biggest impact locally this weekend to keep small shops thriving in the face of closures, out-of-town shopping centres and online sales and promotions.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) estimates that every £1 spent locally gives a benefit of £1.76 because the money stays in the region. A sum which traders across the district say is vital to keep them on track for success into 2016 and beyond.
Chrissie Elliot-Duxson who chairs the district FSB branch explained that with local traders making up a huge percentage of the district’s economy, support is vital to ensure town centres survive, adding: “In Warwick and Leamington 99 per cent of businesses have less than 250 employees, with a staggering 89 per cent of those firms classed as micro-businesses with less than 10 employees. This shows just how important small businesses are and how important it is that we support them.”
The campaign - reinforced by the Buy one Present in Kenilworth scheme - also has backing from Warwick District Council and MPs.
Warwickshire County Council has created a series of short films showing off its town centres - showcasing Warwick and its high number of independent retailers who go the extra mile for custom.
Small businesses are so important and this shows how important it is that we support themChrissie Elliot-Duxson
One who has thrived on it’s town ‘shop local’ appeal ahead of the weekend is Firmstone ironmongers in New Street which has a 350-year history.
Behind the business is manager Robert Vaughan, a professional locksmith who gets requests for his personalised service from all over the world, and who has even made a key to perfectly fit a 300-year-old lock.
He said: “The secret to running a successful small business is knowing what you’re selling and as much as you can about what customers want.
“We have customers visiting us from all over the world because they know they can get products and a service they struggle to find elsewhere.”
Other traders talk about the importance of specialist service for customers - something lost in the world of digital shopping but what the large numbers of independent retailers around Warwick district are keen to revive.
People can spread the word on Twitter with hashtag #SmallBizSatUk or follow @keeplocalwarks. To find out more about the initiative nationally, visit www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com
Small Business Saturday (SBS) is a national grassroots campaign backed by Warwickshire County Council.
County council leader, Izzi Seccombe said:“We are encouraging everyone to include a trip to their local high street in their Christmas shopping plans this year.”
“We have an amazingly diverse range of interesting small businesses offering all kinds of goodies that can’t necessarily be found elsewhere.
“Without them, our high streets would not be the vibrant places they are.”
A statement from SBS said: “We want all kinds of small businesses to get involved, so know that whether you are a family business, local shop, online business, wholesaler, business service or small manufacturer, Small Business Saturday is supporting you.”