Shoppers urged to think local in the run-up to Christmas

This story was published 29 November 2021

People in North Yorkshire are being encouraged to shop locally in the run-up to Christmas.

Edward Sexton in Glencroft

As businesses in the county join the rest of the country in supporting the annual Small Business Saturday campaign on December 4, shoppers are reminded of the importance of supporting the retailers and tradespeople on their doorstep.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Derek Bastiman, Executive Member for Open to Business, said: “We have many wonderful businesses in North Yorkshire – the vast majority of them, 98 per cent, small or micro businesses. They contribute a great deal not only to the county’s economy but to North Yorkshire’s identity around the world.

“The weeks leading up to Christmas are hugely important for the success of many of these businesses, particularly this year as they strive to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now is the time to use them or lose them – buying local within North Yorkshire has never been more important.”

The County Council has helped to bring together businesses and customers with its Buy Local website. Launched at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, initially to help people find goods and services during lockdown, it continues as a simple way for shoppers to search for what they want and for businesses to publicise their offer. Businesses and tradespeople can register free to showcase their goods and services.

Sonia Leeming, owner of Hawnby Store and Tearoom on the North York Moors is one of those registered on Buy Local. Her business supported local people during the lockdowns.

“We never ran out of pasta, or rice or toilet rolls,” said Sonia, “and we just changed our ways. So when we couldn’t get the retail packs of flour and things, we bought the big packs and decanted it, for example. And we had a few locals who were isolating, so we were dropping stuff off.”

Businesses like hers do need local support, says Sonia.

“It’s a bit corny, but it’s a ‘use it or lose it’ situation. Without the tearooms the shop wouldn’t survive on its own – the two need to go together. I think some people think ‘Oh, it’ll be cheaper in the supermarket or wherever’, but actually we can match their prices if not better them. I think there’s a perception that because we are a corner shop, we’re really expensive, but that’s not really the case.”

That sentiment is echoed by James Glaves, one of the Directors of Glaves the Butchers at Brompton by Sawdon.

“People need to have confidence in their local suppliers, whether it’s ourselves or other people,” he said. “At the end of the day, your local convenience shop is not much dearer than your supermarket.

“The way I look at it is the local producer has to produce a good product. If you don’t produce a good product, especially somewhere like ourselves, that is out in the country, people will not travel to you. I have a little saying, which is never serve anybody anything over the counter that you wouldn’t eat yourself.

“So people have to be confident, shops would not survive if they sold rubbish. They go out every morning to the markets, the fruit and veg markets, the fish markets, we do the local cattle markets, we go to local farms. We source it all, it’s all produced in-house and it’s done right and properly and that makes the product last a little bit longer.”

Edward Sexton, of countrywear clothing brand Glencroft, based in Clapham, raises the sustainability benefits of shopping locally, both for the environment and the economy. From its base in the Dales, the business supplies shops and mail order firms across Yorkshire, the UK and the world.

Edward said: “People have been saying to us a lot that they are trying to buy less ‘stuff’, and buy better. They want to know more about the sustainability credentials of the products they buy – both to ensure their durability, as well as to protect the environment, and this is where smaller local businesses really excel.

“Local shops tend to be run by individuals who really care about the quality and sustainability of the produce they put in their shops. We carefully curate our range of goods.

“Local shops also use local supply chains, so if you buy locally it has a positive knock-on effect on the regional economy. For example, the wool for our upcoming Clapdale clothing collection comes from farms within a five-mile radius to us, it is processed in Yorkshire using mills and factories which employ people living locally, so every penny goes through the regional economy, resulting in sustainable clothing with a significantly lower carbon footprint, built to last.”

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which celebrates small business success and encourages consumers to shop local and to support businesses in their communities. Its roadshow team visited Northallerton earlier in November and met independent businesses in the town.

In its ninth year, Small Business Saturday is the UK's most successful small business campaign, which last year saw a record-breaking £1.1 billion spent with small businesses across the UK on the day, according to estimates. The day itself takes place on the first Saturday in December each year, but the impact lasts all year round. Learn more about Small Business Saturday.

Michelle Ovens, CBE, director of Small Business Saturday UK, said: “Small Business Saturday’s mission to support and celebrate small businesses has never been more important, as small firms face considerable challenges to get back on their feet. Support from the public can make a huge impact in helping these small, independent firms who are at the heart of our communities and have been vital to getting us through the pandemic. It’s time to show our thanks and support back to them for the amazing contribution they make to our nation.”

Register your business or search for goods and services on Buy Local.