As we enter a key period in the most difficult year many businesses will have endured, we are appealing to residents to think of North Yorkshire businesses first when shopping in the run-up to Christmas.
Our Buy Local directory brings together local businesses and services in one place to provide an easy way to search for whatever you need. It was set up in March and hundreds of local businesses have signed up so far to shout about what they can offer. It’s a one-stop shop connecting businesses and customers.
Richard Flinton, Chief Executive of North Yorkshire County Council, said: “The run-up to Christmas is a crucial time for many businesses, and we’ll all be thinking about our Christmas shopping. As they deal with the impact of the national restrictions, I urge everybody to think and buy local – think of North Yorkshire businesses first. Many of our businesses have great online and delivery or click and collect offers, and we have nearly 800 businesses that can be accessed on Buy Local.
“Even if they are classed as ‘non-essential’ and their high street shops are closed, a lot of the businesses on Buy Local can still serve you online or over the phone – they need your custom more than ever.”
Charlotte Gale, owner of Charlotte Gale photography based in Knaresborough, and online greeting card business, said: “November and December are key trading periods for many small businesses, with some making as much as 90 per cent of their annual profits during this time. Retailers have already ordered and paid for their stock and many are now being asked to close at their busiest time of year. This affects suppliers like myself, too, who usually sell our products in local independent shops and at events such as Christmas markets. I have a range of Yorkshire, animal and foodie Christmas cards and November is my peak sales month, especially as my cards appeal to people wanting to send festive greetings abroad.
“The Buy Local Directory gives me an easy and effective way of promoting my online Christmas card shop to a wider audience and helps make up for some of my lost retail earnings.”
On Buy Local, you can search for anything from a plumber or an electrician to someone who can deliver veg to your doorstep. You will find one-man bands, and great North Yorkshire brands. All businesses on Buy Local should abide by government restrictions.
Another small business which has had to evolve and re-invent itself constantly this year is Spring House Farm Shop near Northallerton. Owner Neil Hellawell said of the local restrictions: “We’ve changed an awful lot, we’d already geared up, we knew what was coming.”
Neil and his partner, Judith, have switched from a cosy café to offering most of their food business as takeaway. They have also gone out of their way to help customers feel safe by offering a Covid-secure ‘Call and Collect’ service and putting stringent safety measures in place in their shop.
Of their ‘Call and Collect’ service Neil said: “It’s nowhere near the amount of boxes that we did last time, however we do know that there’s quite a few come into the shop to do their own shopping because they say they need sanity, and an excuse to come out of the house. And they say they feel safe to come into our place, so that’s positive, and we have seen an increase in people coming in the shop and getting their weekly shop now.
“For our Covid-secure call and collect we’ve just invested a bit more, we’ve bought a contactless card machine, which means we can go outside and take a payment, so if customers don’t want to pay over the phone they don’t have to.”
Summing up the fresh challenges their business faces in the run-up to Christmas, Neil said: “It’s trying to plan ahead with what people want – it’s hard work trying to guess what people are going to come in for and then make sure we have it.
“We’ve got a Christmas menu already done for the month of December – presently it’s takeaway, but if we are allowed to re-open the outdoor dining area, we will be doing it out there. Yes, you have to have your coat on, but we’re in a different world now, aren’t we? We always say what we make in December we lose in January and February and we always have. So yes, it is usually a busy period.”
Richard Flinton added: “We will continue to support North Yorkshire businesses however we can. Our Trading Standards team is offering free advice to businesses looking to diversify or to find new ways of offering goods and services, and the Local Enterprise Partnership runs regular webinars, which are detailed on our website.”
Find more information or follow @northyorkscc on social media.
Get information about the Local Enterprise Partnership.