Today we are calling on you to help us spread a little love in our high streets – including Whitby.
Our traditional local shopping centres are changing.
Many small retailers face rising business rates and rents, while high parking charges, poor infrastructure and the loss of vital banking services have added to their woes.
At the same time a number of well-known chains and department stores have closed swathes of high street stores, with more than 50,000 retail jobs going or gone from big stores this year alone.
The local retail scene is undergoing significant changes and none of us can ignore the effects.
Small shops are in the thick of this. there are twice as many independent high street businesses as chain stores. They are vital to the health of our town centres and while there are thousands of small businesses still literally setting up shop – on our high streets and online – across the UK, many others are finding it difficult, some too difficult, to stay in business.
There is no quick fix – and longer term we need to reimagine and repurpose our local shopping areas so they can be less than about just shopping and more a place for leisure and experience and community.
But today we – along with sister newspapers across Johnston Press – launch our Love Your High Street campaign with the aim of focusing more attention on what can be done now to support our small shops and businesses.
And we can all play a part.
Whitby Town Councillor Phil Trumper said: “I think people should shop in their high street as much as possible, people don’t realise how good shops are in Whitby and they tend to go to bigger towns to do their shopping.
“I used to do my Christmas shopping in York but then one year I couldn’t get a day off and I had to do my shopping in Whitby. I found much better presents for my family in
Whitby than I would’ve done in York or online.”
Everyone enjoys the convenience of using the internet to meet their shopping needs. But, as consumer spend starts rising in the run-up to Christmas, we are encouraging all readers to make a conscious decision to also shop locally and spend some time and money with the shops, small businesses and independent traders who ensure our communities remain vibrant places to live.
“Everyone is guilty of buying things online”, added Mr Trumper, “but we need to realise that it’s damaging our local economy and local employment should be our number one priority.
“There are some great quality shops in Whitby with reasonable prices and you can find some proper bargains. If you buy from a shop you know what you’re getting and you know that you’re supporting people who need that job.”
Between now and the end of the year we will be helping to spread this message by supporting the local initiatives and great independent retailers we have on our patches in a series of regular features.
But more fundamental change is needed – so Love Your High Street is also about calling for more direct action.
We are backing the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in their calls for both central
and local government to lessen the pressure on small firms
struggling to keep their heads
lDrive home the message
to the Treasury and our
local MPs that our outdated
business rates need urgent
reform to lessen the burden
on independent traders;
lCall for positive action on
car parking charges and spaces to encourage people to visit
our high streets;
l Pressure the Government to review what access
high street businesses and
shoppers have to cash and
digital payments in the face
of dwindling bank branches
Backing the launch of
our Love Your High Street
initiative, Mike Cherry, FSB
National Chairman, said: “It’s
great to see this campaign
adding to the call for action
to help our high streets.
With confidence among
small retailers falling, this
is a crucial time to ramp up
pressure for urgent reform
of outdated business rates
and simplifying the way bills
can be appealed, as well as
improving local roads and
increasing the amount of free
parking. Government and
local authorities must come
together now to find real
solutions to these issues.”