THE Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local campaign, launched in the Herald & Gazette series last week to support local businesses, is already receiving wide support.
Independent retailers are at the heart of the area’s towns and villages and are the lifeblood of the local economy.
John Edjvet, Littlehampton town centre regeneration officer, said: “The town centre has to move with the times and our local shops reflect that through changing products and improving services.
“Despite the continued threat to local shopping, it is wanted and supported by local people.
“The Gazette’s campaign encourages people to make best use of their local shops and businesses so that we can continue to enjoy and active and thriving town centre and we should all be supportive of it.”
Simon Vickers is the owner of Arun Furnishers, in Beach Road. He is also the chairman of the Littlehampton Traders’ Partnership and said that he fully supported the Shop Local campaign.
He explained that his store had a strong and loyal customer base and was something that needed to be nurtured.
Mr Vickers said: “I really welcome the Gazette’s promotion of the Shop Local campaign as it recognises the importance of local businesses and traders to the local economy.
“Littlehampton offers a diversity that out-of-town shopping would struggle to offer from shops, markets, cafés, bars and restaurants which appeal to a wide range of customers.
“At Arun Furnishers, like many of the retailers in Littlehampton, we have a strong local and loyal customer base because we offer a personal approach to service, getting to know what our customers want and responding to changes in taste and demand.”
Littlehampton’s High Street is thriving, with recent figures showing that the percentage of unoccupied stores in the precinct was one of the lowest in the area.
Mr Edjvet said Shop Local would help to maintain that momentum, keeping the money in the town’s economy and providing employment and business growth for the future.
He felt there was a sense of community that internet shops and out-of-town stores could not provide.
“As well as the major benefits for customers, the reality is that Shop Local provides a sense of community,” he added. The town centre gives a focus for social activity, whether it is to meet family, friends, school mates, colleagues or for business meetings.
“There are some great independent cafés as well as the high street brands such as Costa. It is this sense of belonging that out-of-town and internet shopping simply can’t offer.”
Buying locally, said Mr Edjvet, was essential when supporting the town’s independent traders.