South Shields traders call for shoppers to support the high street in any way they can this Christmas

Businesses in South Shields have appealed for shoppers to support local independent retailers in the run-up to Christmas.

Friday, 13th November 2020, 7:00 am

High street traders issued their plea after South Tyneside residents expressed a willingness to back high street businesses during the upcoming winter months, according to one survey.Conducted as part of the Big Conversation campaign, a poll by the Shields Gazette found that 41.9 per cent of respondents in South Tyneside had consciously made an effort to help support local traders since the onset of the pandemic, while almost three quarters felt the Christmas period would be a ‘good opportunity’ to show their support for struggling high street firms.

The Gazette launched our #supportlocal campaign earlier this year in response to the Covid-19 outbreak and we are now calling for people to #clicklocal and continue to back local businesses during Lockdown 2.

As the lion’s share of traders in the area have been forced to shut their doors to the public under the new national lockdown rules, shop owners are urging readers to support the high street through online and over-the-phone orders at store shut in the latest lockdown.

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Derrick Richardson, who works at King Street's Fresh and Fruity greengrocer's

Tracy Stephenson, owner of the Fresh and Fruity greengrocer’s, which is now offering an online delivery service, said the past year has been ‘tough on everybody’.

“We’re just grateful we still have our loyal customers,” she said. “We’re really glad they’ve stuck with us and that we’ve had some new people – people who maybe didn’t shop with us before, who we’ve reached through hampers and boxes – shopping with us as well.”

She added: "We’ve also managed to get quite a lot of younger customers. I don’t know how, mind, but we have.

"Hopefully they continue to support us and all the local shops in the area, really, and that they realise they don’t just have to shop at their local supermarket. They can go to other places and get better-quality stuff cheaper.”

Kaz Chowdhury (left) and Syeda Khatun (right) at the Outlet clothes shop

Courtney Dadswell, from Marion’s Florists on West Avenue, said before the new lockdown that there was uncertainty for businesses going into the winter period and that, even before the newly-announced restrictions, she did not know what to expect over the coming weeks.

She said: “A lot more people are buying flowers and wanting to let people know that they’re thinking of them at the moment.

"But it’s very difficult to predict how things will go from one week to the next at the moment. Some days it’s busy, others are very quiet.

She added: "We’re just grateful for all the support we can get at the moment, given how important the Christmas period is to businesses like ours even in ‘normal times’.”

John Morris, employee at Conway Cycles

Marion’s Florists is also operating a phone and online delivery service.

Conway Cycles on Salem Street is one of the few businesses that remains open, being exempt from the second lockdown.

Owner George Simpson said: “Yes, we have our loyal customers, but a lot of people still choose to purchase bikes online.

"I suppose the downside of that is, once you get the bike, you have to assemble it yourself. So I think there are lots of stories of kids disappointed on Christmas Day when the bike their parents have ordered ‘doesn’t work’.

Courtney Dadswell, florist at Marion's (top); John Morris, employee at Conway Cycles (bottom left); Derrick Richardson, employee at Fresh 'n' Fruity (bottom right)

"When we sell a bike, it’s all set up and checked over. So it’s ready to go.”

He added: "You can avoid any tricks with voiding warranties that big companies might pull when you put it together and something goes wrong. It happens more often than you’d think.

"Once one of our bikes have been sold, we also ask our customers to bring the back in after six weeks for a free service to check everything with the bike is as it should be.”

Mr Simpson added that, due to supply pressures, purchases would be carried out on a ‘first come first served’ basis and that residents can either make orders in person at the shop or over the phone.

Conways runs no online delivery service at present.

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Courtney Dadswell, florist at Marion's